It has been unusually cold this Spring, but things are finally starting to come to life. The first of the woody plants to leaf out in our woods is the Painted Buckeye (Aesculus sylvatica). Its 5-lobed palmately compound leaves are a bronze color when they first begin to unfold, but will turn green as they enlarge. The knobby looking structure in the in the center of the leaves is the flower bud.
There are six species of Buckeye in the U.S., and five of them are found in Georgia. The two species that grow in our woods are A. sylvatica and A. pavia, the Red Buckeye. Both these are small trees, and seldom reach the stature of the well-known Ohio Buckeye (A. glabra), which is a more northern species. In Georgia it is found only in the far northwestern part of the state.