Maples aren’t the only autumn color game in town. Maples can be a gamble in parts of the Upper Midwest, because they are very sensitive to soil type. In the Red River Valley, for example, the heavy clay soil makes maples a roll of the dice: sometimes thriving, other times dying.
Luckily there are other tree types that burn brightly with fall color and are less soil-sensitive. Buckeye is a great choice, and there are varieties that have been developed by our local research universities that are well-adapted and winter hardy.
The Buckeyes belong to the botanical genus Aesculus, and most of the hardy, named varieties are hybrids of Aesculus glabra, the Ohio Buckeye.
Four great buckeyes that make great home yard or boulevard trees are the following:
- Prairie Torch Buckeye – Developed by North Dakota State University
- Autumn Splendor Buckeye – A University of Minnesota introduction
- Homestead Buckeye – Developed by South Dakota State University
- LavaBurst Buckeye – A very recent introduction by North Dakota State University, with availability pending.
With the exception of the new LavaBurst, these buckeyes are generally available in the nursery trade, at locally-owned garden centers.
Buckeye is considered a medium-to-large shade tree. It’s flowers are quite decorative, and they’re followed by nuts in the fall. Fall color is wonderful on the four varieties mentioned.
Wonderful trees for the Upper Midwest. Happy Gardening!