Plant of the Week: Bottlebrush buckeye

It's not surprising when one says that flowers are the most prominent feature of plants. Flowers allure us with their delicate forms, vibrant colors and sweet scents. However, many plants also produce attractive fruit. These fruit appear after the bloom, displaying the plant's essential quality just as much as flowers do.

Photo by Ayinde Listhrop

At the High Line, visitors can find pear-shaped, shiny brown fruit dropped on plant beds. These are fruit of Aesculus parviflora, commonly called bottlebrush buckeye, a deciduous shrub native to southeastern United States. The plant is known for its spectacular bloom in mid-summer, with showy panicles of creamy white flowers with red anthers. Like its cousin horse chestnut, Aesculus parviflora has palmately-compound leaves which may turn yellow in fall depending on growing conditions.

Photo by Ayinde Listhrop

The fruit of Aesculus parviflora measure one-inch long and are encased in leathery husks. The glossy brown fruit has a pale circular mark that makes the fruit look like "buck eye." Just be careful, despite their hearty look, the fruit of Aesculus parviflora are highly poisonous if eaten! Do not confuse it with edible sweet chestnuts, which have a pointy tip on the nut, and are encased in a spiny husk.

Photo by Ayinde Listhrop

In the northeastern United States, Aesculus parviflora usually produces few, if any fruit because the growing season is shorter than that in its native range. Whether a sign of climate change, or simply an effect of microclimates, Aesculus parviflora sets plenty of fruit at the High Line.

PLANTING TIP:

Aesculus parviflora thrives in a moist, well-drained soil high in organic matter, in full sun to part shade. The plant is relatively maintenance free with no need for pruning, but requires a large space for its suckering, spreading habit. Use root cuttings for propagation. 8' to 12' tall and 8' to 15' in spread.

USDA zone 4 to 8.

WHERE TO FIND THIS PLANT:

Aesculus parviflora can be found in the Chelsea Thicket (between West 20th and West 22nd Streets)

Philip A. & Lisa Maria Falcone Flyover (between West 25th and West 27th Streets)

The High Line's planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 500 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line's rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today. Every week we share one of our gardeners' current favorites with you.

Our horticultural team counts on members and friends like you to help keep the High Line beautiful and thriving. Join our community of supporters who play an essential role in the High Line's most important gardening projects.


TD Bank is the Presenting Green Sponsor of the High Line.

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