Widely planted as ornamental large shrubs and trees. Prefers acidic moist soils of woods, and river banks.
Cattle, sheep, horses, swine, chickens and humans have been poisoned naturally and experimentally by various species of buckeye.
The glycoside aesculin and fraxin and possible a narcotic alkaloid, present in the young growing sprouts, leaves and seeds are thought to be responsible for toxicity in animals. Poisoning of livestock generally occurs when animals eat the leaves and sprouts of the buckeye as they generally leaf out before other plants in the spring. As little as 0.5% body weight of ground nuts fed to calves produced severe poisoning.
Trees or shrubs with opposite, palmately compound leaves, there are 5-7 serrate leaflets. The inflorescence is a panicle of large, erect flowers which are usually yellow, whitish-yellow, or red in color. The fruit is a 1-3 seeded leathery capsule with or without sharp spined. The seeds are large, 1 inch in diameter, glossy brown when newly exposed with a conspicuous scar.
Vomiting and abdominal pain.
Muscle twitching, weakness and a peculiar hopping gait have been reported
Laxatives may be given to help remove the ingested plant as rapidly as possible from the intestines. Supportive intravenous fluid therapy with calcium gluconate and dextrose may be beneficial.
Dorsal medial strabismus.
Hyperglycemia, glucosurea and proteinurea appear to be consistent features of severe toxicity.
The nectar and sap of A.. californicum is known to kill honey bees that feed on it, so much so that bee keepers recommend moving hives during the flowering period of the California buckeye.
Roasting or boiling the nuts destroys the toxins.