Aesculus parviflora. (Bottlebrush Buckeye)
Racemes of Aesculus parviflora

Zone: 4 to 8

Soil: Sand to clay

Light: Full sun to part sun

Bloom colour: White (or pink)

Bloom period: Mid summer

Height: 6 to 12 feet

Moisture: Moist with some dryness

Attracts: Wide range of wildlife

Notes: Bottlebrush buckeye is a notable shrub that is not seen often in gardens due to its size. It is not native to Canada, but it can still be grown in southern Ontario. It comes from anywhere between the mid-Atlantic states and Alabama.

The flowers of this shrub are tubular and are up to 2 inches long. The flowers are borne on racemes that are nearly vertical and may be more than 12 inches in length. The spectacular flowerheads appear a bit out of proportion to the rest of the plant. This shrub flowers later than other species of Aesculus and does so at a time when a diversity of pollinators can benefit.

A single specimen will attract several hummingbirds who seem happy to engage in aerial battles over their little piece of Shangri La. In addition, these flowers attract bees, butterflies and lots of beneficial wasps. It is a fantastic all-round plant for attracting pollinators.

The plant is native to areas of rich well-drained soil. Since Bottlebrush Buckeye can tolerate a fair amount of shade, these plants can be used with great effect when planted at the base of trees that have a thin or open canopy layer. A single shrub will spread to about 10 - 15 feet in diameter using root suckers and is more than good enough to attract wildlife on its own.

Racemes of Bottlebrush Buckeye
Palmate leaves of Aesculus parviflora
The palmate leaves of Bottlebrush Buckeye make it easy to identify when it is not in flower.
Aesculus with silver spotted skipper
Bottlebrush Buckeye with Silver spotted skipper
Aesculus parviflora
A fully grown Bottlebrush Buckeye in flower