History/general species info: Although not a true buckeye, it is so called because of the similar large capsules and seeds. This distinct plant, alone in its genus, commemorates Baron Ferdinand von Ungnad, Austrian ambassador at Constantinople, who introduced the Horsechestnut into western Europe in 1576. Was used by Paleo-Indians as early as 9,000 years ago. A wonderful little Texas native tree that’s a real show-stopper in late winter and early spring.
Characteristics: Deciduous. Fast growing. Often multi-trunked with with light gray to brown bark, smooth on young branches. Pinnate foliage turns golden yellow in fall. Clusters of bright-pink, fragrant flowers appear before or with the leaves of the previous season. Fruit distinctive, a light reddish brown when ripe, 3 lobed capsule containing 1 to 3 dark brown to black, shiny poisonous seeds 1/2 inch in diameter. Understory plant. Deer resistant. Produces an opulent show when it blooms. The foliage turns yellow in the fall. Foliage, flowers and dense branching makes this species an outstanding small specimen tree or tall background shrub.
Native: to Texas, adapted to Coastal Bend.
Flower: Bright Pink, blooms March through June.
Fruit: A three chambered seed pod containing shiny, sweet but poisonous, dark round seeds, persisting on the tree for most of the year.
Planting / Care: Low water usage. Sun to part shade. Fast growing in sand, clay, loam and caliche. Can be grown in containers. A deep taproot. Can re-sprout from its roots if cut down after becoming well established. Not invasive. Prune after flowering, to develop a tree form or to maintain a rounded shape.
Size and Spacing: 8-12 ft., deciduoustree, can reach 30 ft. in height.