The Ohio Buckeye is native to the Midwestern and lower Great Plains region of the United States. It became the state tree of Ohio in 1953. It is found primarily as an undergrowth tree in the western half of Ohio. As a mature tree, it is sometimes found in the full sunlight but generally prefers considerable shade, especially as a seedling. Ideally, it should be planted in a shady area or in the shadow of a larger tree.
Growth is moderate under shade conditions but very slow under full sunlight conditions. It prefers rich, moist, well-drained soils with variable pH. It grows well in zone 4 through 7. It is one of the first very first trees to sprout leaves in the spring. Its leaves contain five leaflets with serrated edges that turn orange to yellow in fall.
Starting in late summer, the leaves often experience a disease called leaf blotch which often leads to an early shedding of its leaves. The disease does not kill the tree and the next spring the tree will appear as healthy as ever. Spraying can prevent the leaf blotch disease.
The tree produces white flowers in the spring and the buckeye nut in the fall. The nut is toxic to humans but eaten by squirrels. It is contained in a husk with a spiny exterior. The spiny husk is the easiest way to distinguish an Ohio Buckeye tree from the larger Yellow Buckeye. In fact, the Yellow Buckeye has been mistaken for the Ohio Buckeye many times in the past. Typically, a mature Ohio Buckeye tree can reach a height of up to 50 feet while the Yellow Buckeye may grow to 90 feet in height.