Hippocastanaceae (Buckeye) Family
Red Buckeye is also known as Scarlet Buckeye and Firecracker Plant.
Plant is a shrub or small tree that may reach a height of about 25 feet with a trunk diameter up to eight inches. Preferred habitat is moist soils, along river bluffs, borders of streams, swamps and flood plains, as well as the understory of mixed forests.
Leaves are opposite on the stem; palm-like; compound with slender leaf stalks; often about 2.5-3 inches wide, narrowly widest at the middle; dark green with sunken veins and nearly hairless above. New leaves are dull green and sometimes densely covered with whitish hairs.
Flowers are about 1.5 inches long with four unequal bright red (sometimes yellow) petals; 6-8 stamens about as long as the petals. Flowers are in narrow, upright branched clusters. Flowers occur in late spring.
Fruit is nutlet-like containing three chambers.
Buckeye is widely planted as an ornamental; its red flowers suggesting firecrackers. Indians powdered the seeds and crushed branches of this and other buckeye and tossed the powder into creeks and streams to stupefy fish. The fish came to the surface and were easily caught. Pioneers made a crude soap of the roots and also made home remedies from the bitter bark. The scientific name, pavia, is an Old World word for buckeye.