Bottlebrush buckeye

Story by Russell Studebaker

Bottlebrush buckeye was first collected by American naturalist and nurseryman William Bartram in the 1770s. Although not common in American gardens, the bottlebrush buckeye was an instant success when introduced to Europe by John Fraser in 1785. Native to the Southeast – South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, and north Florida – it is noteworthy for being one of the best flowering shrubs for shade. 

The native bottlebrush buckeye is one of the best summer-flowering shrubs for shade. Photo by Joseph Tychonievich.

The midsummer bloom can be spectacular; some have said it is reminiscent of candles on a birthday cake. The palmate leaves are a rich buttery yellow in autumn, and unlike other buckeyes, this native has no serious foliage problems to detract from its landscape value.

Photo by Russell Studebaker.

Quick Facts and Keys to Success
Common Name: Bottlebrush buckeye
Botanical Name: Aesculus parviflora
Type: Deciduous, multistemmed woody shrub,
USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 4-8
Size: 8-10 feet tall by 8-15 feet wide at maturity with a mounded growth habit.
Flowers: 8-12-inch panicles of white flowers in June and July; attracts butterflies
Foliage: Palmate five to seven leaflets, 3-8 inches long; rich buttery yellow fall color
Location: Shade to part shade, good understory plant. Requires afternoon shade.  
Soil: Organic, well drained, slightly acidic
Maintenance: Pruning seldom necessary; seeds will flower three years after germination; no major pests or disease problems
In the Landscape: Plant en masse or as a specimen; as a shrub border, natural hedge, or to add color to a woodland understory planting.



Mail Order Sources: 
Pine Ridge Gardens – London, Arkansas,, 479-293-4359  
Woodlanders – Aiken, South Carolina,, 803-648-7522.

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