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Quercus prinus

Quercus prinus L.

Chestnut oak, Rock chestnut oak, mountain chestnut oak, rock oak, tanbark oak

Fagaceae (Beech Family)

Synonym(s): Quercus montana

USDA Symbol: QUPR2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A medium to large tree, 65 - 145 feet (19.8 - 44.2 m), broad open and irregular crown, chestnut like foliage. BARK: dark reddish- brown to dark gray, mature bark with deep v-shaped furrows producing broad ridges. TWIGS and BUDS: stout twigs, dark green to reddish-brown; light brown to reddish-brown ovoid bud, pointed apex, bud scales may have slight pubescence. LEAVES: yellow petiole 3⁄8 - 1 1⁄4 inches (10 - 32 mm) long; leaf blade obovate, 4 3⁄4 - 8 inches (121 - 203 mm) long, 2 3⁄8 - 4 inches (60 - 101 mm) wide, margins have 10 - 14 rounded teeth, base subacute, apex broadly acuminate; thick firm blade, shiny dark yellowish-green above, light green with slight pubescence along veins below.

This species is commonly referred to as Q. prinus in forestry literature.


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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Obovate
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Leaf Margin: Dentate
Leaf Apex: Acuminate
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Inflorescence: Catkin
Fruit Type: Nut
Size Notes: 65 - 145 feet (19.8 - 44.2 m).
Leaf: Leaves shiny dark yellowish-green above, light green with slight pubescence along veins below.
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Acorns annual; 1 - 2 acorns on peduncle 3⁄8 - 1 inch (10 - 25 mm) long; cup has gray scales - 66 - with red tips, pubescent inner surface, encloses 1⁄3 - 1⁄2 of nut; chestnut-brown, long oval nut, 3⁄4 - 1 1⁄2 inches (19 - 38 mm) long.
Size Class: 36-72 ft. , 72-100 ft. , More than 100 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May


USA: AL , CT , DC , DE , GA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WV
Native Distribution: Extreme S. Ontario to SW. Maine, south to Georgia, west to NE. Mississippi, and north to SE. Michigan; at 1500-5000 (457-1524 m). Southern Ontario, south to Louisiana, east to Georgia, and north to Maine.
Native Habitat: Sandy, gravelly, and rocky dry upland soils, but reaches greatest size on well-drained lowland sites; often in pure stands on dry rocky ridges.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Loam, Sand


Use Ornamental: As a shade tree, it is adapted to dry rocky soil.
Use Wildlife: Acorns provide a food source for turkey, rough grouse, songbirds, deer, and small mammals.
Use Other: Because of its high tannin content, the bark formerly served for tanning leather. The wood is marketed as White Oak.
Fragrant Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

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
American Native Nursery - Quakertown, PA
Toadshade Wildflower Farm - Frenchtown, NJ

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1134 - Field Guide to Native Oak Species of Eastern North America (2003) Stein, John D. and Denise Binion

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Quercus prinus in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Quercus prinus in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Quercus prinus


Record Modified: 2011-09-30
Research By: TWC Staff

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