Aesculus californica

California Buckeye

This tree likes dry slopes. It changes quite a bit during the year, getting leaves around February, flowers in early May, and losing the leaves again in August. The fruit appears as the leaves disappear.

The fruit contains a bitter toxin. Indians crushed the unripe fruit and placed it in streams to stupify fish (see also Wild Cucumber). The ripe fruit were placed in cold swampy ground for the winter, which allowed the toxin to leach out. In the spring the seeds were then boiled eaten. Do not eat the seeds if they taste bitter.

The wood was used to make fire drills (to start fires).

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