Mexican Buckeye Tree

Diposting oleh alexandria joseph | 02.00

Sticking with the pink blooms theme.   You may have noticed a flowing pink tree in the landscape this last month. A great desert tree found around town is the Mexican Buckeye Tree.  It's a really interesting plant and it stumped me back in March when it began to bloom as I thought at first it was a Peach tree.  I didn't recognize the blossoms, leaf, or pods that were on the tree.  This is a drought tolerant plant that is used here and there around town.  I've seen these trees get to a height of around 20-30 feet. It has an open branch habit and is a popular small tree here in Arizona and in Texas.  Most people favor this xeric friendly plant and like having it in their landscape because it is drought tolerant. Reporting from the University of Texas at Austin, here is their summary on this lovely tree that grows well here in Tucson:)

"Mexican buckeye

Sapindaceae (Soapberry Family)

USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.

Mexican-buckeye, an 8-12 ft., deciduous tree, can reach 30 ft. in height. It is often multi-trunked with with light gray to brown bark, smooth on young branches, becoming fissured with age. Leaves up to 12 inches long, with a central axis supporting 2 to 6 paired leaflets and a terminal one; leaflets up to 5 inches long, ovate to narrower with an elongate tip, rounded base, and serrate margins. Pinnate foliage turns golden yellow in fall. Clusters of bright-pink, fragrant flowers appear before or with the leaves from the axils of the previous season. Fruit distinctive, a light reddish brown when ripe, 3 lobed capsule containing 1 to 3 dark brown to black, shiny seeds 1/2 inch in diameter, the walls of the capsule often persisting through the winter, seeds poisonous.

From a distance the plants in full flower resemble redbuds or peaches. The sweetish but poisonous seeds are sometimes used by children as marbles. Livestock seldom browse the toxic foliage, but bees produce fragrant honey from the flowers. 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.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low

Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade(the ones I've seen in town are in part shade)

Soil Moisture: Dry

Cold Tolerant: yes

Soil Description: Rocky soils. Rocky, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche type Limestone-based

Conditions Comments: Mexican buckeye produces an opulent show when it blooms. The foliage turns a clear yellow in the fall. Foliage, flowers and dense branching makes this species an outstanding small specimen tree or tall background shrub. Rapid-growing, drought-resistant, resistant to cotton root rot(important). Prune to encourage a single trunk if desired. Growth characteristics of this tree vary greatly with site. It has mildly poisonous seedpods. " End of report.  Source:

Another great and low maintenance tree for our Tucson landscape.  It is sold at Mesquite Valley and other local growers.  This is perfect for desert design. Until next time.....

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