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A genus of a single species, which, like the related Xanthoceras, bears some resemblance to Aesculus in the neighbouring family Hippocastanaceae. In this instance the similarity is even reflected in the vernacular name ‘Mexican Buckeye’, all the other American buckeyes being species of Aesculus. There is, however, the obvious difference that the leaves in Ungnadia, as in Xanthoceras, are odd-pinnate and that the flowers are borne before or with the leaves, in short dense clusters.
Endlicher named the genus in honour of Baron Ungnad, Austrian envoy at Constantinople 1576–82, who sent seeds of the horse-chestnut to Clusius.