Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.
Search native plant database:
Vick, Albert F. W.
Quercus michauxii Nutt.
Swamp chestnut oak, Basket oak, Cow oak
Synonym(s): Quercus houstoniana, Quercus prinus
USDA Symbol: QUMI
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
A 60-100 ft. oak with a tight, narrow crown very high on the massive trunk. Bark is light gray. The shiny, oval, unlobed leaves have large, rounded teeth and turn yellow to vibrant red in the fall. Large tree with compact, rounded crown and chestnutlike foliage.
GROWTH FORM: large tree
growing to 48 - 100 feet (15 - 30.5 m),
occasionally to 155 feet (47.2 m), with
a compact rounded crown and chestnut
like foliage, often with a limbless trunk
to 40 feet (12.2 m). BARK: light
gray, rough, flaky ridges. TWIGS
and BUDS: juvenile growth is green,
progressing to brown during the first
winter and turning gray during second year; ovoid, reddish-brown bud, apex may be blunt or pointed, sparsely pubescent scales. LEAVES: short petiole 1⁄4 - 3⁄4 inch (6 - 19 mm) long; obovate leaves widest beyond the middle, 2 3⁄4 - 11 inches (70 - 279 mm) long, 2 - 7 inches (51 - 178 mm) wide, wavy margin with 9 - 14 pair of rounded teeth, base acuminate, apex broadly rounded with an abruptly pointed tip; shiny dark green above, grayish-green with dense pubescence (felty
to the touch) below.
Named for French botanist, Frances A. Michaux, who wrote a three volume treatise on the trees of eastern North America. Called Basket Oak because baskets were woven from fibers and splints obtained by splitting the wood. These strong containers were used to carry cotton from the fields. The sweetish acorns can be eaten raw, without boiling. Cows consume the acorns, hence the name Cow Oak. Swamp chestnut oak is considered an early succession species with mature trees retarding growth of understory vegetation due to an allelopathic effect.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Leaf Retention: Deciduous Leaf Arrangement: Alternate Leaf Complexity: Simple Leaf Shape: Obovate Leaf Venation: Pinnate Leaf Margin: Dentate Breeding System:
, Monoecious Inflorescence: Catkin Fruit Type: Nut Size Notes:
growing to 48 - 100 feet (15 - 30.5 m),
occasionally to 155 feet (47.2 m). Leaf:
Leaves shiny dark green above, grayish-green with dense pubescence (felty
to the touch) below. Autumn Foliage:
Acorns annual; 1 - 3 on peduncle
1⁄2 - 1 1⁄4 inches (13 - 32 mm) long; deep, bowl-shaped cup with brown pubescent
scales, enclosing 1⁄2 of nut; light to dark brown, ovoid nut,
1 - 1 3⁄8 inches (25 - 35
mm) long. Size Class:
72-100 ft. , More than 100 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
, VA Native Distribution:
Illinois east to New Jersey, south to Florida, west to Texas, and north to Missouri. Native Habitat:
Occurs on a variety of moist soils and well- drained alluvial floodplains
in the central and southern forest regions. Bottomland forests; stream banks; calcareous swamps
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Soil Description: Deep, rich soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Acid-based.
Conditions Comments: Tolerates compaction better than most oaks. Long-lived and slow-growing. Adaptable. One of the best oaks for fall color. Drought tolerant.
Attractive, Fall conspicuous Use Wildlife:
Fruit-birds, Cover, Nesting site, Substrate-insectivorous birds. Use Food:
The acorns are food for humans, cattle, deer, and small mammals. The nuts are sweet enough to eat raw without boiling. Interesting Foliage:
Birds , Butterflies Larval Host:
Horaces Duskywing, Northern hairstreak, White M hairstreak.
PropagationDescription: Oaks are most often propagated from seed. No pretreatment is necessary. Plant immediately – outdoors or in deep containers to accomodate long initial taproot. The acorns sprout without a dormancy period and begin to germinate as soon as they fall from
Seed Collection: Best quality acorns are picked or shaken from the tree. Collect when color has changed to brown. Best if sown immediately as acorns lose viability quickly in storage. Short-term storage in moist, shaded saw dust or sand. Acorns to be sown immediately can be soaked in hot water for 15 min. to prevent weevil infestation. Stored seed should be fumigated with methyl bromide.
Seed Treatment: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Prevent complete soil dryness, Prune to maintain shape, May be pruned 12 mo. out of the year, Fertilize 3 times a year with lawn fertilizer 3:1:2 ratio
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
From the National Suppliers Directory
According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:
Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery
- Orefield, PA
Record Last Modified: 2013-09-06
Research By: TWC Staff