Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A different buckeye

with 8 comments

Mexican Buckeye Flowers by Flowering Huisache 2950

Click for greater clarity.


There’s more than one kind of delicate tree in central Texas that answers to the name buckeye. (Really, just yell “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 here’s Mexican buckeye, Ungnadia speciosa, from the Sapindaceae (or soapberry family). I found this tree flowering along the northernmost stretch of Spicewood Springs Rd. on March 18.

In yesterday’s post I said that its photograph of a flowering huisache would be the last for this year, and that’s true if you count pictures in which the huisache is recognizable. Truth to tell, today’s photograph also shows huisache flowers, but only as indistinct round patches of yellow-orange beyond the Mexican buckeye.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 8, 2013 at 6:14 AM

8 Responses

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  1. Exquisite! Huisache complements the purple perfectly. Such fitting portrait partners.


    April 8, 2013 at 7:16 AM

  2. Lovely flowers. I am glad that you we able to capture each of the plants that are called buckeye.Good info.I am still thinking of the swallowtail on the red buckeye.


    April 8, 2013 at 12:56 PM

  3. Gorgeous. I had no idea there were soapberry relatives with such vivid blooms! And you got such an elegantly composed shot, with the huisache perfectly embracing the buckeye not only in their great complementary colors as Shannon noted but also in shape. Wonderful.

    I just got to share your site and your wildflower pamphlet work with one of the UNT doctoral candidates, who as I discovered on Saturday is also a big fan of native flora. I know she’ll enjoy your artistry and insights as much as I do!


    April 8, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    • Mexican buckeye is native to Texas (as well as New Mexico and of course Mexico), but in addition to that natural occurrence, people are increasingly planting it because of its pretty flowers in the spring. There are quite a few native plants along the several hundred feet of Spicewood Springs Rd. where I found this tree, so I’ve guessed that a person or organization planted all those things, including the huisache that conveniently served as a backdrop for this photograph. I still had to struggle, though, to line up appropriate parts of the two flowering trees. There was also a Mexican plum close at hand, which I photographed but pictures of which I didn’t show here.

      Thanks for passing my information along to the UNT doctoral candidate. In around the year 2000, I attended the annual meeting of the Native Plant Society of Texas, which was held on the UNT campus that year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 8, 2013 at 2:24 PM

  4. You know, I think I might have identified the huisache in this one. Even blurred, those fuzzy little orbs are recognizable.

    The buckeye photos have made me think of a friend who makes candy buckeyes at Christmas. Last year, I think she made a hundred dozen. All of the seeds seem to look pretty much alike, but I think the Ohio buckeye was the model for the candy.


    April 11, 2013 at 8:15 AM

    • Sounds like you’ve become attuned to huisache. I sure have.

      You’re right that it probably was not the Mexican buckeye that served as the model for your friend. I wasn’t familiar with Ohio buckeye, but I see it’s Aesculus glabra, a relative of the red buckeye whose emerging leaves recently intrigued you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 11, 2013 at 10:12 AM

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