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Native Genera:

Acer (maples)
Aesculus
(buckeye, horse chestnut)

Other Genera:

Hippocastinum (Horse chestnut)
Litchi (Lychee)

Growth Form:

Worldwide, they may be found as shrubs or trees, however, the plants in California are all trees.

Branching:

Opposite

Leaves:

Usually palmate, although individual species may be pinnately compound (eg - Acer negundo, Aesculus californica)

Flowers:

Flowers are often showy, in panicles or racemes. The species in California are, however, wind pollinated.

Fruit:

Maples seeds are in pairs, and each seed has a wing. Buckeye seeds are large and heavy, without wings. Tropical species often have large edible berries.

Shade Tolerance:

Maples generally tolerate shade, although they grow better in the full sun. Buckeyes are intolerant of shade.

Moisture Requirements:

Both maples and buckeyes prefer moist soil and are often found in or adjoining riparian zones. Occasionally, however, they may be found in fairly dry sites.

Comments:

Sapindaceae

California Native Plant Guide
Native Plant Families

This family includes the families Aceraceae (Maples) and Hippocastinaceae (Buckeyes, Horse Chestnut). The tropical species of Sapindaceae include many edible fruits, such as lychee and longan.