Wild Florida Photo
Nature Photography by Paul Rebmann
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A frequent deciduous shrub or small tree of hammocks and rich mesic woods, sandhils, slopes, bluffs and ravines of the panhandle and the peninsula south into Sumter, Lake and Orange Counties. The range extends throughout the southeastern states, west into Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri, north to Illinois, Kentucky - where it is listed as threatened - West Virginia and VIrginia, plus Ontario.
Red buckeye is the only shrub or small tree in Florida with palmately compound leaves of five leaflets. The leaflets are elliptic, finely toothed and 5-15 cm (2-6 in.) long. The flowers are borne in panicles and are typically red but sometimes red and yellow. The fruit is a light brown round capsule 3-6cm (1-1/8 - 2-3/8 in.) in diameter that splits open and contains several hard reddish-brown poisonous seeds.
Some consider buckeyes in the Sapindaceae or soapberry family while others separate them into Hippocastanaceae - the buckeye or horse-chestnut family. A. pavia is the only buckeye found in Florida and can grow to 12 m (almost 40 ft.) tall, although it is usually less.