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A Nutty Tree: California Buckeye

Have you ever wondered what those trees with pink and white flowers are? Well, they are California Buckeye, a species in the Sapindaceae family that is endemic, or native, to California.

The California Buckeye has palmately compound leaves of five leaflets that meet at one single point, so they look like mini palm fronds. The tree has clusters of fragrant white and pink flowers during the Spring, and during the Summer it loses its leaves. In the Fall we can also see that the California Buckeye will bear large fruit, which is the main food source for many animals.

Many native insects are attracted to the California Buckeye, including the bay checkerspot butterfly and the monarch butterfly, a local butterfly species in the Coyote Valley. The buckeye fruit in the Spring time is said to be toxic to non-native bees, and its nectar source in the late Spring is extremely important to migrant butterflies like the monarch butterflies.

Where can you find the California Buckeye? One place is near the entrance of Coyote Creek or other creek-side banks. If you walk on the Coyote Creek Trail, snap a picture of the California Buckeye tree with its flowers or fruit, and in Spring, take in the fragrance of the flower. You won’t be disappointed.

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