- Aesculus glabra L.
- Horsechestnut family
Parts Usually Used
Description of Plant(s) and
Buckeye (named from the appearance of the seed). Any of various trees (genus Aesculus) of the horsechestnut family with large, spiny capsules enclosing shiny brown seeds.
Small tree; 20-24 foot. The palmate leaves, 4-15 inches long, with 5 toothed leaflets (rarely 4-7), and the yellowish blooms characterize this horsechestnut. Flowers in April to May. The nuts were once used medicinally, but are considered poisonous without elaborate processing. Twigs are foul-smelling when broken. Buds not sticky; scales at tips strongly ridged. Bark rough-scaly.
A native of Ohio (called the Buckeye State). Found in rich, moist woods. West Pennsylvania, West Virginia, east Tennessee, central Alabama, central Oklahoma to Nebraska, Iowa.
Legends, Myths and Stories
The buckeye is best known among superstitious people as an amulet for good-luck. The seed is strung and worn as a necklace or simply carried about in pocket or purse.
American Indians put ground nuts in streams to stupefy fish, which floated to the surface for easy harvest. They roasted buckeyes, peeled and mashed them, then leached them, with the result that the toxic principle was removed, leaving a nourishing meal.
Old sources say the nuts will remove mildew stains from linen and a flour made from buckeyes makes an insect-proof paste of great tenacity much preferred by bookbinders. It is also said that moonshiners used the nuts to give their "liker" an aged appearance.
Still, even though considered toxic, American Indians made food from them after elaborate processing.
Traditionally, powdered nut (minute doses) were used for spasmodic cough, asthma, intestinal irritations. Externally, tea or ointment used for rheumatism and piles.
Nuts of the buckeye are toxic, causing severe gastric irritation.
Should not be taken internally unless under medical supervision.