What is a Buckeye?
A buckeye is a tree from the species Aesculus glabra. It is said to have a distinct smell coming specifically from its flowers. But others also claim that this tree gives off its distinct smell when the tree bark is bruised, or when some of it twigs are broken. Crushing its leaves may also produce the same odor. The tree itself has a bark with a grayish color and scaly texture. It could grow from 15 to 25 meters tall. It bears flowers that are usually yellow or green and is able to produce fruits which are considered toxic to humans and cattle because of their tannic acid content. This tree can be found in various parts of the Great Plains and the Midwest, including Ohio, which makes this tree its state tree. Common names for a buckeye tree include “Ohio buckeye” and “American buckeye”. Buckeyes have also become favorite symbols in various sporting clubs in Ohio and in other parts of the US.
It is said that the tree got its name from folk stories by Native Americans. The nuts of this tree are likened to the eye of a buck deer and so were then called as “buckeye tree”. From then on, this tree has been commonly known as America’s buckeye tree.
The buckeye tree served many uses from the time of the American Indians and even up to the present. Its bark is said to be good for carving and many other uses. All parts of the tree including the leaves, flowers, and fruits are considered toxic and poisonous. But the Native Americans have found a way to make the buckeye nuts safe for human consumption. By the process of heating and leaching, the poison in the nuts is removed and should be safe for eating. Today, various recipes for buckeye nut are available online for those who are food adventurers.