What Do Buckeye Trees Look Like?

Buckeye trees are stout deciduous species that bloom early in spring and produce shiny, brown nut-like seeds with beady light-colored spots in the center that resemble eyeballs. Buckeyes are relatively small trees, with spreads equal to their heights. However, size varies depending on species; the largest buckeyes, Ohio and yellow, may reach heights of 50 feet or more.

In the springtime, buckeyes are among the first trees to sprout blossoms and buds. Their first flowers generally appear at the same time as those of woodland wildflowers; naturalists can often distinguish buckeyes from other trees during the early spring based on this characteristic. Although they bloom early, buckeyes lose their leaves early in the fall season; this is another trait that facilitates identification of buckeyes. The wood beneath the surface of buckeye trunks is pale and light, and often used to produce paper products, boxes and crates and novelty items. Seven species of buckeye are native to the United States, and the Ohio and California species are two of the most common. Ohio buckeyes have rounded, umbrella-like canopies and thick, fissured grey bark and branches. These species may reach 50 feet or more while California buckeyes rarely exceed 25. The California species grow along coastal ranges and mountain slopes, and produce five- to ten-inch blossoms in spring.