Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Ohio Buckeye
Aesculus glabra
Hippocastanaceae

Saponins in the seed are used as a soap substitute[169]. The saponins can be easily obtained by chopping the seed into small pieces and infusing them in hot water. This water can then be used for washing the body, clothes etc. Its main drawback is a lingering odour of horse chestnuts[K].

Wood – close-grained, light, soft, white, but often blemished by dark lines of decay[82, 229]. It weighs 28lb per cubic foot[235]. It is easy to carve and resists splitting. Ideal to use in making artificial limbs, it is also used for woodenware, pulp etc and is occasionally sawn into lumber[82, 229, 235].

  • Medicinal Use

    Minute doses of the seed are used internally in the treatment of spasmodic coughs, asthma and internal irritations[222]. It is used externally as a tea or an ointment in the treatment of rheumatism and piles[222].

    An extract of the bark has been used as an irritant of the cerebro-spinal system[82].

  • Edible Use

    Seed – cooked[222]. It can be dried, ground into a flour and used as a gruel. The seed is quite large, up to 35mm in diameter[82], and is easily harvested[K]. It is quite rich in saponins and needs to be leached of these toxins before it becomes safe to eat – the Indians would do this by slow-roasting the nuts (which would have rendered the saponins harmless) and then cutting them into thin slices, putting them into a cloth bag and rinsing them in a stream for 2 – 5 days. By this time most of the minerals etc would also have been leached out[K].

  • Cautionary Notes

    The seed is rich in saponins. Although poisonous, saponins are poorly absorbed by the human body and so most pass through without harm. Saponins are quite bitter and can be found in many common foods such as some beans. They can be removed by carefully leaching the seed or flour in running water. Thorough cooking, and perhaps changing the cooking water once, will also normally remove most of them. However, it is not advisable to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[K].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown outdoors or in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[11, 80]. The seed germinates almost immediately and must be given protection from severe weather[130]. The seed has a very limited viability and must not be allowed to dry out. Stored seed should be soaked for 24 hours prior to sowing and even after this may still not be viable[80, 113]. It is best to sow the seed with its ‘scar’ downwards[130]. If sowing the seed in a cold frame, pot up the seedlings in early spring and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer.
Prefers a deep loamy well-drained soil but is not too fussy[1, 11]. This species is the state tree of Ohio[229]. Its growth-rate is moderate in the wild, with trees living up to 100 years[229]. In Britain, it grows best in eastern and south-eastern areas of England probably needing a continental climate in order to thrive[126, 200]. Although the trees are hardy when dormant, the new growth can be damaged by late spring frosts[11]. The twigs, bark, flowers and leaves all produce a foetid odour if crushed[229]. Most members of this genus transplant easily, even when fairly large[11].
South-eastern and Central N. America – Pennsylvania to Nebraska, south to Tennessee and Oklahoma.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.