The state tree of Ohio is the buckeye, or Aesculus glabra. This tree was officially adopted as the state of Ohio's tree symbol in 1953. Its importance to the history of the state of Ohio is said to date back to the presidential campaign of Ohioan William Henry Harrison, which took place in 1840. Harrison's Ohio followers are said to have used the wood of the buckeye tree to carve their campaign-related mementos, a gesture probably intended to show their support for the campaign of their fellow Ohioan. The buckeye tree can typically be found growing throughout Ohio, most commonly along the state's waterways and on its western plains.
The buckeye tree gets its name because its nuts resemble the eyes of deer. The state tree of Ohio is similar in appearance to the horse chestnut tree, a related species. The buckeye generally has smaller, more ovular leaves, and its pods typically produce only one nut each. These nuts, usually referred to as buckeyes, are usually bumpier in appearance than horse chestnuts, and have a larger pale spot. In addition, the nuts of the buckeye tree are usually smooth and round, while the horse chestnut typically has one distinctively flattened side. Some residents of Ohio believe that carrying a buckeye brings good fortune.
The buckeye tree usually has a delicate, ridged covering of bark. The bark is normally brown or gray in appearance. Cracks in the bark of the state tree of Ohio generally deepen and lengthen with age. The typical buckeye tree grows clusters of five leaves. The state tree of Ohio is considered vulnerable to diseases that affect the leaves, and it is not uncommon to see these trees shed their leaves several weeks before the end of the summer season.
These trees can reach a maximum height of about 60 feet (18.3 meters) and can be as large as 30 feet (9.2 meters) in diameter, although most specimens don't get that large. They typically require a somewhat shaded environment, with damp soil that has adequate drainage. The state tree of Ohio usually becomes somewhat hardier as it grows larger. Too much direct sunlight has been known to be harmful for these trees, and can contribute to a condition known as "leaf scorch."