The letter "U" is somewhat rare in plant naming and often skipped on plant lists. As rare as it is there are two plants native to my region of Texas with botanical names beginning with the letter "U" and one of them is the Ungnadia speciosa or Mexican Buckeye.
Due to our mild climate we have limited fall color compared to New England. Mexican Buckeye is one exception. It turns a glorious bright gold in the fall. Here's a photo of Mexican Buckeye in full color last fall at the WFSC gardens where I volunteer.
We were a bit surprised when this native tree listed as highly deer resistant in the Native Plant Database turned out to be attractive to deer so it has been corralled by a fence of juniper branches. The idea is that once it grows above the "browse line" the deer should leave it alone. It is surrounded by larger trees so antlering should not be a problem.
Mexican Buckeye is easy to find in San Antonio and I found this one on a visit to local gardening center Milberger's last fall and it's sometimes included in tree giveaways at local gardening events. Although a bit small now I like how it blends in with the natural area along the creek. As an understory tree or small shrub it should be quite happy in this partially shady spot. They are considered fast growing and with all the rain we've had this year there has been a good bit of new growth despite the deer nibbling it until we built the corral.
Native to a fairly narrow range through Texas and New Mexico, Mexican Buckeye gets its common name from the seedpods which resemble buckeyes though it is not related to the more famous Aesculus glabra or Ohio Buckeye tree. The seeds are also poisonous.
In addition to great fall color we get pretty pink blooms in the early spring.
This kind of fall color is so rare in south Texas that I look forward to mine maturing enough to put on a display like this each year now that we've figured out how to keep the deer away. It loses its leaves in late fall and they return again in early spring which is usually only a few months here.
Native to Texas: Yes
Hardiness: Zone 7
Drought tolerant: Yes
Deer resistant: Not in my garden, turns out to be a deer magnet!
Height: 8-12 feet