Home A - Z FAQ Art Prints Online Library Discussion Forum Muir Weather Maps About Search
Online Library: Title Author California Geology History Indians Muir Mountaineering Nature Management

Next: Oregon AshContentsPrevious: Pacific Dogwood

Broadleaved Trees of Yosemite National Park (1947) by C. Frank Brockman


CALIFORNIA BUCKEYE

Aesculus californica (Spach.) Nutt. — Horse chestnut Family (Hippocastanaceae)

Being native to the upper Sonoran Zone (1,000 to 2,500 feet), this tree is found only occasionally within park boundaries. It may be noted in the vicinity of the Arch Rock Entrance and at points along the western park boundary to Hetch Hetchy. Motorists journeying to the park will note numerous specimens along the highway bordering the Merced Canyon to a point in the vicinity of El Portal, along the road from Fresno to a point above Coarse Gold, and in places along highway No. 120.

While it often occurs as a shrub, ten to twenty feet tall with several stems arising from a common root, it also attains the stature of a small tree up to twenty five feet tall and a diameter of from eight to twenty inches. Its foliage, flowers, and fruit are all distinctive and these features enable one to identify it quickly and easily.

The large, long stemmed leaves which are borne opposite upon the branches are palmately compound, generally with five but occasionally with four to seven leaflets, each from three to seven inches long. When mature

California buckeye in fall with distinctive fruit
[click to enlarge]
Photo by Anderson

California buckeye in fall with distinctive fruit
they are bright green and smooth except for minute hairs in the angle of the veins on the pale under surface. The edges of the leaflets are characterized by numerous teeth.

In the spring this tree is conspicuous because of its showy flowers. These vary in color from white to a delicate pink and are produced in large, erect clusters up to six inches long. It is also conspicuous in the fall after the foliage has been shed. At that time the large, green, pear-shaped fruit, two to three inches long, can be seen hanging from the tips of the branches. Closer examination will reveal that the fruit consists of a large, glossy brown seed, sometimes nearly two inches across, enclosed in a thin husk of leathery texture which splits open upon maturity. Only rarely is more than one buckeye enclosed within one husk.

Although considerable effort was required in the preparation of the buckeye as a food due to its bitter taste, it was so used on occasion by the Indians which inhabited the lower foothills. This was particularly the case at times when the acorn crop failed. In addition the soft, light, close grained wood was utilized, after careful seasoning, by the Indians in the preparation of equipment for making fire by friction.

North Dome and the Merced River in Winter
[click to enlarge]
Photo by Anderson

North Dome and the Merced River in Winter


Next: Oregon AshContentsPrevious: Pacific Dogwood

Home A - Z FAQ Art Prints Online Library Discussion Forum Muir Weather Maps About Search
Online Library: Title Author California Geology History Indians Muir Mountaineering Nature Management

http://www.yosemite.ca.us/library/broadleaved_trees/california_buckeye.html