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Mexican Buckeye

Ungnadia speciosa

Other common name(s):

Monilla

Family:

Sapindaceae (Soapberry Family)

Plant Ecoregion Distribution Map

Central Great Plains, Chihuahuan Deserts, Cross Timbers, East Central Texas Plains, Edwards Plateau, Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes, Southern Texas Plains, Texas Blackland Prairies, Western Gulf Coastal Plain
Limestone Plains
Chihuahuan Basins and Playas, Chihuahuan Desert Grasslands, Chihuahuan Montane Woodlands, Low Mountains and Bajadas, Stockton Plateau
Carbonate Cross Timbers, Eastern Cross Timbers, Grand Prairie, Limestone Cut Plain, Western Cross Timbers
San Antonio Prairie, Southern Post Oak Savanna
Balcones Canyonlands, Edwards Plateau Woodland, Llano Uplift, Semiarid Edwards Plateau
Floodplains and Low Terraces4, Northern Humid Gulf Coastal Prairies
Northern Nueces Alluvial Plains, Semiarid Edwards Bajada
Floodplains and Low Terraces1, Northern Blackland Prairie

Plant Characteristics

Growth Form

Tree

Height

8
to
20
ft.

Spread

12
to
20
ft.

Leaf Retention

Deciduous

Lifespan

Perennial

Habitat and Care Requirements

Soil Type(s)

Sand, Loam, Clay, Rocky, Limestone, Caliche, Alkaline, Well Drained

Light Requirement

Sun, Part Shade

Water Requirement

Low

Native Habitat

Woodland

Bloom and Attraction

Bloom Color

Pink

Bloom Season

Spring

Seasonal Interest

Fall Color, Seeds, Nectar, Larval Host

Wildlife Benefit

Butterflies, Birds, Small Mammals, Hummingbirds, Bees

Maintenance

Needs 1/2 day sun. Prune for single trunk if desired. Avoid pruning when blooms form at stem axils. Varies in height according to conditions: in Houston it is a fast growing tree with large pink flowers, in the Guadalupe Mountains it is a four foot tall shrub with smaller flowers. Propagation: Seed.

Comments

Blooms March-June. Multi-trunk understory tree, with light gray to brown bark, smooth on young branches, becoming fissured with age. Blooms March through June. Pink flowers appear before leaves in the Spring. Leaves with 2 to 6 paired leaflets and a terminal one. Leaves turn yellow in the Fall. Round, hard black seeds in dark reddish brown, 3 lobed pods, which are eaten by wildlife but poisonous to humans. Can use near overhead utilities. Attractive to bees and warblers. Replaces Invasives: Vitex, Chastetree, Texas Lilac. Larval Host: Henry’s Elfin Butterfly.

References

1) Griffith, Bryce, Omernick & Rodgers (2007). Ecoregions of Texas. Miller, George O., Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas 2nd Ed., 2013, pg 48. 3) Wasowski and Wasowski, Native Texas Plants Landscaping Region by Region, 1991, pg. 304. 4) https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=UNSP. 5) http://bonap.net/TDC/Image/Map?taxonType=Species&taxonId=22799&locationType=County&mapType=Normal, 6) https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=28710#null, 7) Native and Adapted Landscape Plants, City of Austin and Texas A&M, 2014.