Bernheim has several species of Aesculus represented throughout the Arboretum. Our native buckeye, Japanese horse chestnut, and the shrubby bottlebrush buckeye can all be found in our collection. Flowers of these species range in color from white to pink and red. The buckeyes are some of the first species to leaf out in the spring, and the first to drop their leaves in late summer. The leafless structure of these trees is to be appreciated as much as its foliage and flower. A tremendous mass planting of bottlebrush buckeyes line the main road of Bernheim, opposite of the Education Center, and are a sight to behold.
In the December 1977 issue of American Nurseryman, an article by Mike Dirr, who was then Associate Professor of Horticulture at the University of Illinois stated that Bernheim’s collection of bottlebrush buckeye was one of very few plantings of (Aesculus parviflora) in the country that regularly produced seed. Since that article appeared, seed from this planting has been requested by and sent to nurserymen and institutions all over the country.
Planting of the Buckeye/Horse chestnut collection began in the fall of 1958 with the plantings of Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra), a double-flowered cultivar of horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum ‘Baumannii’), and bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora). Two Texas buckeye (Aesculus glabra var. arguta) were sent to the Arboretum by the Oklahoma City Parks Dept in 1960. Bernheim has eight species of Aesculus, seven cultivars, and nine hybrid forms.
Included in our collection:
Aesculus flava - yellow buckeye
Aecculus glabra - Ohio buckeye
Aesculus glabra var. arguta - Texas buckeye
Aesculus hippocastaneum - common horsechestnut
Aesculus parviflora - bottlebrush buckeye
Aesculus pavia - red buckeye
Aesculus turbinata - Japanese horsechestnut