Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Bottlebrush buckeye



If I had a totem tree, this would be it.

When had our first glimpse of the land we now live on, it was the Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) that made my heart go pitter-patter. The view of the beautiful white blooms cascading over the creek bank was what initially caused me to think, "We should live here."

The Bottlebrush (technically more of a totem shrub, I suppose) is one of those plants that are "rare but locally abundant". And yet it will grow almost anywhere. It's not that picky about soil type, sun/shade considerations, etc.

Weather conditions have not been ideal for the garden this year, but the Buckeyes sure have loved it... though now past their peak, the blooms have been amazing.



They're not known for setting a lot of seed. But with the profusion of blooms this year, I'm hopeful.

23 comments:

herhimnbryn said...

Beautiful images. We have 'bottlebrushes' in Oz. Same shape but different structure( if that makes sense!).
Thankyou for yr kind comment on my blog too.

happy and blue 2 said...

It is a nice tree/shrub..

Ericka said...

very cool tree, and great pictures!

*gigglesnort* my mom has been struggling to grow buckeye trees for years. they are, apparently, the equivalent to crack for bunnies, who will even scrap away the dirt to munch down below the dirt line. also, they're also magnets for lawn mowers - the ones the bunnies didn't snarf down, dad ran over.

Dave said...

Gosh, those blossoms look just like black cohosh! Do they attract lots of insects?

Floridacracker said...

Nice. Seems like all the buckeyes are attractive.

James Cooper said...

Fascinating -- how do the brushes themselves actually feel? (that is, are they coarse, bristly, soft, etc?)

ericka: When my family moved into our new house one year ago we inherited a rabbit on the tail-end of its life. He was old, fat, and slow and content to spend his golden months hobbling around the backyard and munching on whatever grew there.

When we moved in we started planting a little garden and among the various plants there we grew jalapenos. We expected the bunny to eat a lot of the plants we grew there, but what we hadn't expected was that he would eat the jalapeno leaves.

And eat those jalapeno leaves he did. He would munch them, go crazy running around the yard and wolf down quantities of grass, always returning for more. Jalapeno, and later habanero, leaves were our bunny's crack.

Eventually we got rid of those plants and the bunny went back to normal. Every now and then until his death though he'd circle the perimeter of our garden trying some leaves and moving on to others and I was sure he was looking for another fix.

KFarmer said...

They are really pretty. I wish I had some growing around here to admire. But no, so I guess I will just have to come here and gaze..

Fran├žois said...

Nice trees, really...
Do they give conkers like Aesculus hippocastanum does?

JLLove said...

Beautiful plant!

Funny bunny stories.

We live in the city, yet have an abundance of rabbits.

Are cats don't even bother!

Wayne said...

Our three species of buckeyes are among my favorite shrubs, and the bottlebrush is the best. They're all graceful and great moistish area/shady area plants.

Glenn's plant taxonomy class looked closely at ours and found there were very few female flowers among the very numerous males. Which might explain the few seeds. Apparently the bees and wasps are going after the pollen, mostly. Which might also explain (I think) Ontario Wanderer's observation of dead bees all around a buckeye, something I haven't seen. The nectar might be toxic if you have a lot of females, but the pollen isn't if you have a lot of male flowers.

If you do get seeds, and you probably already know this, pluck them off or get them off the ground as soon as they drop or the husks open. Then get them into pots immediately. They won't survive drying out, and the squirrels will get them if you try planting them directly into the ground. Keep the pots watered and plant the seedlings in the spring.

Rurality said...

OK, I knew that you had to get the seeds into the ground right away or they dry up - learned that the hard way - but didn't know that various rodents dug them back up again!

Dave, I wasn't familiar with black cohosh, but I looked it up and you're right, they do look a lot alike. The nectar is said to be toxic to honeybees. I haven't noticed a lot of insects (other than butterflies) around them, but I don't see them all the time - they're not near the house.

James, they are very soft! There is a closer pic in my post from last year here.

Fran├žois, not as many. And they shrivel up pretty quick.

Wayne, apparently there are complete flowers as well... see here.

I enjoyed the bunny stories too! So far our wild rabbits have been pretty well-behaved and just cavort for our viewing pleasure.

Wayne said...

Thanks for that URL, Karen. It's very interesting. I've wondered if our acquisition of bottlebrush (and yes, I admit, we bought it and planted it) is atypical. Or perhaps there are bottlebrush variants that do things differently.

From what I recall of your previous posts, yours, unlike ours, is a wild bottlebrush (?). Hopefully it will make seeds this year. It certainly looks enthusiastic!

And yes, the squirrels will get them. Been there, done that. Plant the seeds in pots.

Rurality said...

Yes, this area is more or less lousy with them! On a couple of the slopes you couldn't walk without brushing up against one. But most are in very shady areas and don't even bloom. They travel underground I suppose.

BTW we have NO other types of buckeyes on our land.

meresy_g said...

I love that shrub. Alas, I have to good place to grow it. You are lucky to have them wild. Absolutely lovely.

Ron Sullivan said...

The buckeye flowers out here (Aesculus um californica?) are supposed to be toxic to honeybees, though I don't know whether it's the pollen or the nectar; that's an interesting distinction, Wayne. The native bees are supposedly OK with them, though. And the local first people used the conkers to throw into water and stun fish. No, no, they mashed them up and used some toxin in them; they didn't throw them at the fish. I'm told the fish that didn't get caught recovered and swam away.

They drop their leaves when the ground dries up, which, depending on where they are, can be as early as right now. People panic. But the pale-barked bare trees, especially a backdrop of redwoods or other evergreens, make a beautiful abstracted silhouette.

I really like buckeyes, too.

LauraP said...

The lone buckeye I've owned was in a very shady spot and never bloomed. Yours are beautiful. And I, too, thought of cohosh immediately - lovely flowers on both species.

Jenn said...

Mmm. Good to know about the bunnies and these plants - I have a pair of sticks that will one day be red buckeye, and I will be careful of where I store the pots for winter, and to fence the babies when they get in the ground.

Dear lord, James, what a story! Crazy bunny.

Story Midwife said...

Wonderful! Yay for the Totem Bush!

Sonia said...

Just wonderful!

Anonymous said...

So pretty. We have a stream I would like to plant these near. But we have deer...more every year. Do you know if these are a deer "favorite"? I normally don't risk temping them, but your photos are amazing...

Rurality said...

We have a lot of deer and a lot of bottlebrush buckeye too. So I would guess that they don't like it much. (I believe most parts of the plant are toxic, but I'm not sure about the leaves.)

tina said...

I always enjoy finding blog posts on plants I'm researching. Thanks for the nice post about this shrub. I just added two to my garden and hope they grow to be as big and beautiful as yours. I also hope they are still doing fine.

kevindk said...

how old is this blog... sorry if I am late. I saw the bottlebrush buckeye in my local park and dug up a few shoots. after two years the shoots are still only a foot tall. how long does it take to reach 12 feet tall??