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Aesculus flava - Sol.
Common Name Sweet Buckeye, Yellow buckeye
Family Hippocastanaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards The seed is rich in saponins. Although poisonous, saponins are poorly absorbed by the human body and so most pass through without harm. Saponins are quite bitter and can be found in many common foods such as some beans. They can be removed by carefully leaching the seed or flour in running water. Thorough cooking, and perhaps changing the cooking water once, will also normally remove most of them. However, it is not advisable to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[K].
Habitats Rich river-bottoms and mountain slopes[82]. Woodland on moist rich soils[43]
Range Eastern N. America - Pennsylvanica to Tennessee and west to Ohio.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Bloom Color: Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Oval.

Aesculus flava Sweet Buckeye, Yellow buckeye

Aesculus flava Sweet Buckeye, Yellow buckeye
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of lolypop
Aesculus flava is a deciduous Tree growing to 20 m (65ft) by 8 m (26ft) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Ae lutea. Ae octandra.

Woodland Garden Canopy;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Nectar;  Seed.
Edible Uses:

Seed - cooked. Said to be as sweet as a chestnut[105, 177]. We have only eaten the immature seed, harvested in late August, but these were very tasty with no noticeable bitterness[K]. The seed can be up to 45mm in diameter and is easily harvested[82]. It can be dried, ground into a flour and used as a gruel. The seed contains saponins and needs to be leached of these toxins before it becomes safe to eat - the North American Indians would do this by slow-roasting the nuts (which would have rendered the saponins harmless) and then cutting them into thin slices, putting them into a cloth bag and rinsing them in a stream for 2 - 5 days[213, 229]. The resulting product is said to be tasty and nutritious[229], though most of the minerals etc would have been leached out[K]. The flowers contain a sweet nectar which is delicious when sucked out[245].
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known
Other Uses
Soap;  Wood.

Saponins in the seed are used as a soap substitute[169]. The saponins can be easily obtained by chopping the seed into small pieces and infusing them in hot water. This water can then be used for washing the body, clothes etc. Its main drawback is a lingering odour of horse chestnuts[K]. Wood - very soft, light, close grained, difficult to split. It weighs 27lb per cubic foot[235]. It is used for making artificial limbs, wooden ware, pulp etc, and is occasionally sawn into lumber[46, 62, 82, 171].
Cultivation details
Landscape Uses:Pest tolerant, Pollard, Specimen. Prefers a deep loamy well-drained soil but is not too fussy[1, 11]. Grows best in eastern and south-eastern areas of England probably needing a continental climate in order to thrive[126, 200]. Although the trees are very hardy when dormant, the new growth can be damaged by late spring frosts[11]. Plants grow well in a woodland situation, tolerating shading by larger trees[229]. Seedlings grow away quickly, the plants reaching maturity when about 60 - 80 years old[229]. The form Asculus flava vestita (Sarg.)Fern. is growing well at Kew Gardens. It has been seen with large crops of fruit on a number of occasions, even in cooler summers. These fruits have only been tried when immature (harvested at the end of August) but were then very tasty with no bitterness[K]. Fruits are produced more abundantly in warm summers[130]. Most members of this genus transplant easily, even when fairly large[11]. Special Features:Attractive foliage, North American native, Blooms are very showy.
Seed - best sown outdoors or in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[11, 80]. The seed germinates almost immediately and must be given protection from severe weather[130]. The seed has a very limited viability and must not be allowed to dry out. Stored seed should be soaked for 24 hours prior to sowing and even after this may still not be viable[80, 113]. It is best to sow the seed with its 'scar' downwards[130]. If sowing the seed in a cold frame, pot up the seedlings in early spring and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Aesculus californicaCalifornian Buckeye, California Horsechestnut31
Aesculus chinensisChinese Horse Chestnut31
Aesculus glabraOhio Buckeye, Fetid Buckeye21
Aesculus hippocastanumHorse Chestnut, European Horsechestnut, Common Horsechestnut34
Aesculus indicaIndian Horse Chestnut31
Aesculus parvifloraBottlebrush buckeye21
Aesculus paviaRed Buckeye21
Aesculus turbinataJapanese Horse Chestnut20
Aesculus x carneaRed Horse Chestnut, Ruby Red Horsechestnut21
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Expert comment
Botanical References
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Readers comment
Elizabeth H.
Mike Creel Tue Oct 26 20:14:56 1999
Rich, I e-mailed you area about the toxicity of buckeyes. Dr. Duke is an authority in this area. This information should be useful to you.

From: Jim Duke[SMTP:jimduke@cpcug.org]

> Hi Mike; being as sweet as dosen't make it edible.

> I have for the first time in my life a chestnut and a horsechestnut (really I'm growin a local ornamental Aesculus which set seed). harvested in my own yard. I won't eat but one of them.

> I treat all Aesculus as poisonous and think the europeans who are selling horse chestnut are downplaying the poisonous natures.

Note from Rich: detailed information on the active ingredients of this plant have been snipped. You can detailed info at Ethnobotany Database or one of the other online database mentioned above.

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Subject : Aesculus flava  

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