Monday, September 26, 2016

Hardy red buckeye finally bears some fruit

This is the red buckeye tree last month.
After all these years, I have harvested some buckeyes off my buckeye tree.
Now that I've got four of them (and there are many more still on my small tree), I don't know what I'll do with them. Can't eat them; they're poisonous to humans. I guess I'll just carry one around in my pocket and save the rest of them for decoration or kids or something.
I really don't know how many years we've had that tree. My wife bought it because she knew I liked buckeyes, for I carried one in my pocket when I met her back in 2002. I guess she bought the tree a couple years after we got married in 2004, and I planted it in full sun in the front yard right close to the street.
The next spring, I mowed it off level to the ground. Wasn't paying attention.
Fortunately, it grew back.
A year later, maybe two, I hired a kid to mow the yard. "Don't mow down the buckeye," I told him. "This is the buckeye," I said, pointing to it.
He went right on and mowed it down.
It grew back, though.
Then, over the summers, I failed to water it regularly when there was no rain, and it looked like it burned up.
But every spring, it would grow back.
I finally learned to water it and care for it. Sort of.
Here is the tree Sunday afternoon. Notice the fruit husk splitting.
It bloomed in the spring, but it did not bear any fruit, for several years. Or maybe some critters ate them. I don't know. Last year, I saw some fruits, but they disappeared. I can't explain it, so don't ask me any questions.
This year, the tree bloomed and fruited. I thought I had taken a picture of those booms, but I could not find it, if I did. We had adequate rainfall, and that tree thrived. Today, while I was knocking down some brush and weeds along my driveway, I went over to the tree and noticed the fruit husks or rinds were starting to split on a couple of them. I picked them and easily removed the husks to get the buckeyes out. You can see them in a picture accompanying this article; I've put some coins next to them so you can judge the size.
Here are the red buckeyes.
Now, about this buckeye tree. This is not the native Missouri buckeye, the horse chestnut. This is a Southern tree, called the red buckeye or the firecracker plant; it's the aesculus pavia, a deciduous flowering plant.
The University of Kentucky Department of Horticulture says it can grow 16-25 feet tall, but the Missouri Botanical Garden says it will grow 12-15 feet tall. It will bush out about the same width.
Right now, my tree is just about as tall as I am. I'm going to take the advice of the Missouri Botanical Garden and mulch and water it regularly; maybe it will grow better.
It has red flowers in April and May, the same time that hummingbrids show up in Missouri. And hummingbirds like those blooms, so if you want to attract hummingbirds (and bees), plant a red buckeye tree.

No comments: