Yard makeover? Con­sider the Ohio buck­eye

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - MICHAEL ALLEN

LAST year, I dis­cussed the wide­spread prob­lems af­flict­ing small trees in south­ern Man­i­toba. With or­na­men­tal crab ap­ple and moun­tain ash trees, the main cul­prit is fire blight dis­ease. Very early stages of this dis­ease can be treated if caught in time. The other small tree that has been dev­as­tated by black knot dis­ease vir­tu­ally ev­ery­where it has been planted is the Schu­bert chokecherry. Treat­ment for black knot dis­ease in nearly all of th­ese trees has be­come a waste of time. My rec­om­men­da­tion for badly in­fected trees of all kinds is to have them re­moved. There is of course no per­fect tree. Ev­ery living thing has its is­sues whether it is a hu­man be­ing, a house pet, or trees and other plants in your gar­den. There is one hardy tree that has done fairly well both on city boule­vards, parks and in pri­vate yards. The tree I want to bring to your at­ten­tion is the Ohio buck­eye. This is a rel­a­tively small-grow­ing tree in south­ern Man­i­toba that rarely grows taller than six me­tres (20 feet). Botan­i­cally this tree is called Aes­cu­lus glabra. Ohio buck­eye is nat­u­rally found grow­ing in eastern and cen­tral states, and it has been thriv­ing quite well when planted in south­ern Man­i­toba. Its name is de­rived from the nut that it pro­duces. The non-ed­i­ble nut is pro­duced in­side a spiny husk that cracks open later in the grow­ing sea­son. The nut is shiny red­dish brown with a prom­i­nent creamy cir­cu­lar patch that gives the ap­pear­ance of an eye of a deer. The beauty of this small tree is in its flow­ers. The flow­ers are stalked and up­right with a yel­low­ish colour that usu­ally shows small patches of red. It re­minds me of a rough-look­ing or­chid, but the flow­ers are still very colour­ful. The unique fea­ture of this tree is its leaves. They are palm-shaped like a hu­man hand with five leaflets to each leaf. The leaves are at­tached to stout twigs that are unique in our part of the world. If you ac­quire this tree, be sure to plant it in full sun­light. It does not grow well in shade. Fol­low the sup­plier’s di­rec­tions when plant­ing it. You can con­tact me if you need more in­for­ma­tion es­pe­cially about fer­til­iz­ing.

MICHAEL ALLEN / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

The Ohio buck­eye is a rel­a­tively small-grow­ing tree that rarely grows taller than six me­tres.

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