There are six species of buckeye trees native to the United States. Leaves in the shape of an outstretched hand, clusters of flowers, and a nut resembling a male deer's eye are features common to all six species. The Ohio buckeye and the yellow buckeye are the largest buckeye species, with some individuals growing to 100 feet tall, while the Texas buckeye typically grows to a height of only 10 feet.
All buckeye trees produce poisonous nuts but were once used for medicinal purposes. The nuts develop in rounded, hard, spiny capsules and ripen in the fall. The nut is brown-colored with a light center area. Native American fishermen once used crushed buckeye nuts, which would immobilize fish and make them easier to catch.
Buckeye trees grow best in rich, moist soil, and gardeners should plant them in the fall. They grow quicker in sunshine but tolerate shade.
The Ohio buckeye is the state tree of Ohio, giving the state its nickname "The Buckeye State." These trees have the widest range of any of the buckeye species but grow mainly in the Ohio and Mississippi valley regions of the United States and grow to approximately 30 to 50 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet in diameter. They have gray, scaly bark, leaves that are 4 to 6 inches long, and clusters of pale white flowers.