in Tucson, Phoenix,
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Gardening in Tucson, Phoenix, Arizona and California

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Growing Ungnadia speciosa: Mexican Buckeye

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Form: A multi-trunked shrub, or with pruning, a tree.
Leaf retention: Deciduous.
Growth rate: Slow the first year, increasing with age, dependent on water and sun.
Mature Size: Typically 10-15' high and wide. Up to 30' in favorable locations.
Flowers: Rose-purple to pink, fragrant.
Bloom: Late winter to late spring, before or during leaf-out. Flowers for the entire tree are in bloom for only one or two weeks.
Fruit: A three chambered seed pod containing shiny, sweet but poisonous, dark round seeds, persisting on the tree for most of the year.
Leaves: Green, oval to lance-shaped leaflets, poisonous, turning yellow in fall. This plant provides dense shade.
Stems: No thorns, smooth, mottled, gray-brown bark.
Roots: A deep taproot. This plant can resprout from its roots if cut down after becoming well established. It is not invasive.
Wildlife: Attracts bees, butterflies, birds. It is a larval host to some butterfly species.
Toxic / Danger: Sweet, poisonous seeds. The leaves are poisonous to livestock but seldom browsed. Other parts of the plant are possibly poisonous.
Origin: New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 7-11.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun to part shade.
Water after becoming established: Once or twice a month.
Soil: Well drained, dry, low in organic content, pH 6.1-8.5 (slightly acidic to alkaline).
Prune: After flowering, prune to develop a tree form or to maintain a rounded shape.
Litter: Flowers and seeds.
Propagation: Scarified seed, soaked, and grown in moist, very warm soil.
Uses: Ornamental, xeric garden.

This plant is a member of the Soapberry family (Sapindaceae) and is not a true Buckeye. The seed pods resemble those of the Buckeye tree, giving the plant its common name.

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Latest update: February, 2019.

Ungnadia speciosa: Mexican Buckeye - rose colored flower

Ungnadia speciosa: Mexican Buckeye - pink flowers

Ungnadia speciosa: Mexican Buckeye - seed pods

Ungnadia speciosa: Mexican Buckeye - leaves

Ungnadia speciosa: Mexican Buckeye - trunk

Ungnadia speciosa: Mexican Buckeye