Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Wildflower Wednesday: Bottlebrush Buckeye

The Aesculus parviflora shrub adorns long wands that resemble a bottle brush and are one of my favorite flowers of summer. Our oldest shrub grows in a semi shaded area near the path that runs along the side of the house, where it gets a hint of midday sunshine.

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Bottlebrush buckeye shrub near walking path 
Typically an understory shrub, the long flower clusters are unforgettable and create a showstopper in a woodland setting. It works as a specimen plant or as a shrub border.

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Flower wands attract native pollinators
Native to the southeastern states of Alabama, Georgia and northern Florida, it prefers rich loamy soil often found in woodland areas. The shrub will sucker and spread twice as wide as tall when happy. No pruning is required.

I'm not the only one who loves this plant. Pollinators dance through the long wands known as panicles.

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Butterflies cover the spires that bloom in late June to July.


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The white tubular trumpets that house the red anthers and pink filaments are also visited by diurnal moths,

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Clear wing hummingbird moth
and numerous native bees and wasps.


As a result of their pollination services, the plant grows pear shaped nuts in early autumn. The orange nuts are encased in a husk that splits open to reveal gorgeous 'buckeyes'. Squirrels and chipmunks feast on these protein rich nuts. They don't last long in our garden.

Buckeyes: orange nuts
Also in fall the bottlebrush buckeye wear golden foliage that compliment the oak and maple leaves of the tree canopy.

golden foliage in fall
Although bottlebrush buckeye technically isn't a wildflower, it is an outstanding native wildlife shrub and pollinator flower. I'm joining our host Gail at Clay and Limestone for Wildflower Wednesday.

17 comments:

  1. Oh gosh, I love it! People grow it around here, too, even though it isn't native to this region. We've had some volunteer buckeyes (some are native here) during the past couple of years, but the rabbits or the mice keep eating them before they have a chance to grow much. I even potted one up, but the mice ate it while it was overwintering in the garage. Oh well, if I find another volunteer, I'll have to try a different method. Amazing flowers and your photos with all the pollinators are fabulous!

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    1. The bottlebrush buckeye is winter hardy to zone 5 so it is one that you should be able to grow. Weird that mice would eat it but then again they will eat most anything if they are hungry. It would look lovely in your woodland area.

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  2. Wonderful photos! Love seeing the bees and butterflies as well as the flowers. And pretty Autumn foliage, too!
    Happy Wildflower Wednesday!

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    1. Thanks Lea! It is a wonderful three season plant for woodland areas.

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  3. I love this shrub! Mine is finally going to bloom! Happy WW!

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    1. That's exciting. You should see lots of pollinators visiting.

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  4. We had a wonderful one in our Clemson garden -- it was spectacular as a 20-year old plant in June, just before we left that garden. We have several in Asheville, too, which are quite nice, just not as impressive as the Piedmont one. I have a wonderful photo of that one - featured in one of my presentations, so I'm reminded of it....

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    1. Wow! That's amazing. Those type of foundation plants that are so established are impressive. Did you ever prune it or just let it be?

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  5. I have read about bottle-brush in magazines but have never seen one in real life. Now I am interested; however, the phrase "rich loamy soil" does not describe my hard rocky clay soil.

    Another plant to add to the long list of "oh I wish I had...".

    Jeannie@GetMeToTheCountry

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    1. Mine grow in clay that I've amended with organic matter and they do well. The largest one is even on a slope. I'd encourage you to try growing one.

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  6. Your bottlebrush buckeye is a beauty and look at all those pollinators! I'm always surprised when I find out that a plant we can grow in Ontario is native to a southerly climate.

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    1. It's amazing the range some plants have, isn't it!

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  7. Amazing that those ethereal delicate flowers can become such substantial nuts!

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    1. Yes! It is rather astounding! And they don't last long. The critters find them very quickly.

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  8. I would so love to have one of those, or maybe a Red Buckeye (A. pavia).

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    1. That's a good one too. I have both red and painted buckeyes that bloom right when the hummingbirds arrive to our area. They have beautiful blooms too.

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"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

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