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Aesculus octandra - yellow (sweet) buckeye

Native to the eastern United States, yellow buckeye grows naturally south of the Great Lakes. It is considered extremely hardy and is grown well north of its native range. The species is related to the more familiar European horse chestnut (A. hippocastanum) which is fairly common in parts of Finland, but the American species is planted much more rarely.

Yellow buckeye has decorative shiny palmately compound leaves, smaller and more slender than the horse chestnut’s. In autumn they turn yellow, orange or scarlet. The tree flowers in June with erect panicles of cream or yellowish blossoms. The capsule is smooth, very unlike the spiky cover of the horse chestnut.

At Mustila there is a large old yellow buckeye hidden away in the grove that lies between Atsalearinne (Azalea slope) and Viinitupa (Wine Cellar). Younger trees have been planted on Azalea slope in recent years, using selected seedlings from Mustila’s own seed collecting expeditions as well as seed from commercial collectors.

Yellow buckeye is closely related to Ohio buckeye (A. glabra) and they hybridise easily in the wild. The Mustila trees might well include such hybrids (A. x marylandica).