The Californian buckeye can be seen in full of flower at the western end of the Fairway.
As its common name and specific name suggests, this buckeye (or chestnut) originates from California, where it is an endemic species (existing naturally only in this area). In its native range it occurs on dry slopes, in canyons or on stream margins of the Coast Ranges and Sierra foothills, and is tolerant of drought, and is suited to conditions here in Cambridge, though it may shed leaves in high temperatures. It was first introduced to our gardens by the plant hunter William Lobb for the Veitch nursery in the 1850’s. Aesculus californica can grow to 12m in height and is often as broad as it is wide, producing a rounded, dense habit. The leaves are glossy and consist of five to seven narrow, pointed, and gently toothed leaflets. In late spring or early summer dense panicles of scented flowers, with protruding stamens, smother the tree, and small, asymmetrical, pear-shaped fruits are produced in autumn.