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Vascular Plants of California
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Aesculus californica

Higher Taxonomy
Family: SapindaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Tree, shrub, [woody vine]. Leaf: opposite [alternate], generally palmately or ternately [pinnately] lobed to compound, deciduous, petioled; stipules 0. Inflorescence: umbel, panicle, or pendent raceme, axillary or terminal. Flower: unisexual or bisexual, radial or +- bilateral; sepals (4)5, free or fused; petals 0, 4, or 5(6); prominent disk between petals and stamens; stamens 5--12, free; ovary superior, chambers 2--3, each 2[1]-ovuled, style short or 0, stigmas 2(3), linear, or 1, unlobed. Fruit: 2(3) 1-seeded mericarps, conspicuously winged, or generally leathery, generally 1[many]-seeded capsule [berry, nut, drupe].
Genera In Family: 150 genera, 1500 species: +- worldwide. Note: Acer traditionally placed in Aceraceae, Aesculus in Hippocastanaceae. Cupaniopsis anacardioides (A. Rich.) Radlk. possibly naturalizing in southern California.
Unabridged Note: Acer and Aesculus have traditionally been placed in small families (Aceraceae and Hippocastanaceae, respectively). However, virtually all the traits considered characteristic of these two small families are also found in the closely related large family Sapindaceae, and it seems more reasonable to emphasize the close relationship of the whole group by treating it as a single family, rather than maintaining two small segregate families that differ from Sapindaceae in virtually nothing except opposite leaves (Harrington et al. 2005).
eFlora Treatment Author: Alan T. Whittemore, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Douglas H. Goldman, Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: AesculusView Description 

Common Name: BUCKEYE
Habit: Large shrub or tree. Leaf: palmate, leaflets 5--7[9]. Flower: petals 4[5], >> sepals. Fruit: capsule leathery. Seed: 1, large.
Species In Genus: +- 15 species: northern hemisphere. Etymology: (Latin name for a sp. of oak)
eFlora Treatment Author: William J. Stone
Aesculus californica (Spach) Nutt.
Habit: Plant 4--12 m, broad, rounded. Leaf: leaflets 5--7, 6--17 cm, lance-oblong, finely serrate, acute to acuminate; petiole 1--12 cm. Inflorescence: panicle-like, erect, 1--2 dm, finely hairy; pedicel 3--10 mm. Flower: calyx 5--8 mm, 2-lobed; petals 12--18 mm, white to pale rose; stamens 5--7, 18--30 mm, exserted, anthers orange. Fruit: generally 1 at inflorescence tip, occasionally 2--9, 5--8 cm diam. Seed: generally 1, 2--5 cm, glossy brown. Chromosomes: 2n=40.
Ecology: Dry slopes, canyons, borders of streams; Elevation: < 1700 m. Bioregional Distribution: c&s NW, s CaR, SNF, n&c SNH, Teh, GV (scattered near foothills), n&c CW, WTR, sw DMoj; Distribution Outside California: southwestern Oregon. Toxicity: All parts TOXIC. Native Americans used ground seed as fish poison; nectar and pollen TOXIC to honeybees. Flowering Time: May--Jun(Aug) Note: Generally deciduous Jun--Feb.
Jepson eFlora Author: William J. Stone
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Botanical illustration including Aesculus californica

botanical illustration including Aesculus californica


Citation for this treatment: William J. Stone 2012, Aesculus californica, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on January 17, 2019.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2019, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on January 17, 2019.

Aesculus californica
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© 2010 Neal Kramer
Aesculus californica
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© 2006 Christopher L. Christie
Aesculus californica
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© 2006 Christopher L. Christie
Aesculus californica
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© 2012 Gary A. Monroe
Aesculus californica
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© 2016 Neal Kramer
Aesculus californica
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© 2011 Steve Matson

More photos of Aesculus californica in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Aesculus californica:
c&s NW, s CaR, SNF, n&c SNH, Teh, GV (scattered near foothills), n&c CW, WTR, sw DMoj;
Markers link to CCH specimen records. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues. Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.