Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Red buckeye flowers are attractive

with 24 comments

Click for greater clarity.

Click for greater clarity.

A recent post showed that what might seem to be buds on a red buckeye, Aesculus pavia var. pavia, open to reveal not flowers but new leaves. If that left you wondering what the tree’s flowers look like, here’s a photograph from March 26 in Great Hills Park to answer that question. Among the flowers are some actual buds, so you get to see what they look like, too.

You’ll probably find these flowers attractive in the figurative sense of the word, but I discovered that they were literally so, in this case attracting a swallowtail butterfly.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 3, 2013 at 6:14 AM

24 Responses

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  1. It’s 25 degrees here and you are seeing butterflies. I must be doing something wrong.

    Bonnie Michelle

    April 3, 2013 at 6:29 AM

    • We had a cold spell last week that brought overnight temperatures down to around 40°, but I’ve been seeing butterflies here for a couple of months. On a walk two days ago I saw dozens of them, especially small ones. The only thing you’re doing wrong is living at a northern latitude.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 3, 2013 at 7:50 AM

  2. So wundervoll!!


    April 3, 2013 at 6:45 AM

  3. big gulp of joy here yay! getting so excited waiting and watching here, working on lilac blog watching every day, so much happens in a day, sometimes I wonder, it’s a pity to have to give up one thing in order to notice another


    April 3, 2013 at 8:19 AM

    • Now that’s a keen observation: we have to give up one thing in order to notice another. Think of all the choices we end up making each day, the things done and not done. In any case, happy spring to you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 3, 2013 at 9:20 AM

  4. Great capture, and thanks for giving the buckeye its due!


    April 3, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    • I’m happy to do so. From your comment I get the impression you think this native tree is overlooked and under-planted—or am I reading too much into your wording?

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 3, 2013 at 10:07 AM

      • Buckeyes are fairly well represented here at the eastern edge of the Arkansas Ouachitas, but people tend to “ooh and ahhh” over the pinks and whites of fruit tree blossoms and sadly, ignore the beautiful red buckeye blooms in the understory.


        April 3, 2013 at 12:19 PM

        • Thanks for the added information. I think you’re right that people are drawn a lot more to some blossoms than to others.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 3, 2013 at 12:26 PM

  5. Steve, that is a stunning photograph. The butterfly is beautiful. Great capture. I’ve yet to get a pic of a swallowtail and I really want the the black and the tiger’s photos. I’m planting more things that the swallowtails like to feed on. Hope to have better luck this year.


    April 3, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    • In my experience, Yvonne, swallowtails almost always keep fluttering when they’re at a flower, and that perpetual motion can make it hard to photograph them (at the least it means using a fast shutter speed). In this case, though, the swallowtail kept fairly still, so I ended up with 20 pictures of it. I wish things were always that easy.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 3, 2013 at 10:28 AM

      • Yes indeed the beauties really flit about I sometimes see them sailing past in the yard and never landing or is alighting on anything.


        April 3, 2013 at 6:20 PM

  6. The butterfly reminds me I haven’t seen any scissortail flycatchers yet this year. Butterflies are increasing, although we’re still seeing mostly smaller ones. This is a lovely shot of the swallowtail, but I must confess I’m still taken with the photo of the emerging leaves.

    I wonder if I’ve seen the red buckeye and not known what it was, or confused it with something else. We have some huge bottle brush trees here, and if I see a green tree with red blossoms from a distance, I assume that’s what it is. Perhaps not. The next time I see red and green I’ll look more closely.


    April 3, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    • Yes, you were really taken with the emerging leaves. It took me a good while to realize those red things weren’t buds but leaf cases.

      The USDA map shows Aesculus pavia growing near the coast, so chances are you have seen it without realizing. For this year, though, there’s probably not a lot of time left to catch the flowers, and you might have to wait till next spring to do some closer looking when you see red on green.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 3, 2013 at 4:30 PM

  7. LOVE red buckeye; very popular here for color from native plants.


    April 3, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    • I’m glad to hear that you love it and that it’s popular there. There’s also a variety with yellow flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 3, 2013 at 10:14 PM

  8. Now I’ll pay more attention to what trees are doing~ that is much prettier than I would have expected. The Shagbark hickory has beautiful leaf buds that resemble tulips unfolding. That should be happening in a week or two here. I can hardly wait to get back out there with my camera and sketchbook!


    April 4, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    • Great, I’m glad this has whetted your appetite to see and photograph and sketch the hickory. Happy pictures to you when you do.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 4, 2013 at 12:25 PM

  9. Beautiful buds and butterfly. Must check to see if red buckeye grows here! 🙂


    April 4, 2013 at 6:52 PM

    • I just checked, and happily, it does! 😉


      April 4, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    • I looked at the USDA map and found that red buckeye has been reported in most of Alabama’s counties, so you’re in luck.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 4, 2013 at 7:25 PM

      • Oops, I see that you’ve already found that out. Now let’s hope you find some trees while they’re still flowering.

        Steve Schwartzman

        April 4, 2013 at 7:26 PM

  10. […] “Here, buckeye!” and see the trees come running.) You’ve already had a look at red buckeye, which is in the genus Aesculus in the Hippocastanaceae (or horse-chestnut family); now […]

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