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Intro to Trees of Indiana: Ohio Buckeye

The classic and trusted book "Fifty Common Trees of Indiana" by T.E. Shaw was published in 1956 as a user-friendly guide to local species.  Nearly 70 years later, the publication has been updated through a joint effort by the Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Indiana 4-H, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and reintroduced as "An Introduction to Trees of Indiana."

The full publication is available for download for $7 in the Purdue Extension Education Store. The field guide helps identify common Indiana woodlot trees. 

Each week, the Intro to Trees of Indiana web series will offer a sneak peek at one species from the book, paired with an ID That Tree video from Purdue Extension forester Lenny Farlee to help visualize each species as it stands in the woods. Threats to species health as well as also insight into the wood provided by the species, will be provided through additional resources as well as the Hardwoods of the Central Midwest exhibit of the Purdue Arboretum, if available. 

Ohio Buckeye leaf outlineThis week, we introduce Ohio Buckeye or Aesculus glabra.

This understory tree is easily identifiable by its oppositely arranged compound leaves with five leaflets, placed like the fingers on your hand, that originate from one location on the long leaf stems. Ohio Buckeye features clusters of tubular yellow/green flowers borne on the end of the stems in the spring. In the winter, twigs show large white leaf scars where leaves were present the season prior. This tree produces round, shiny dark brown nuts, which are contained in a spiny shell.

Ohio Buckeye is one of the first trees to leaf out in the spring, while its smooth buds also form early in the season. It is also one of the first trees to lose its leaves, typically at the end of the summer.

Ohio Buckeyes are found mostly in the understory, in the shade of other trees, on moist sites. They grow to be anywhere from 20 to 40 feet tall. According to the Morton Arboretum, Ohio Buckeyes are native from western Pennsylvania to Iowa and south to Alabama and Arkansas.

Ohio Buckeye is susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases from leaf blotch and powdery mildew toOhio Buckeye wood panels infestation by scale and Japanese beetles.

According to the Hardwoods of the Central Midwest exhibit, the sapwood is white to grayish with a darker irregular heartwood. The wood has uniformly distributed pores and its growth rings are slightly visible. With a 12 percent moisture content, buckeye weighs about 25 pounds per cubic foot, making it one of Indiana’s lightest weight woods.

The wood from Ohio Buckeye is very desirable for carving. In the past, it was used for artificial limbs. When the material is processed today, it is used for low-strength pallets and crates. It can also be used for paint grade molding.

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