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Wasowski, Sally and Andy
Quercus muehlenbergii Engelm.
Chinkapin oak, Chinquapin oak, Chestnut oak, Yellow chestnut oak, Yellow oak, Rock chestnut oak, Rock oak
Synonym(s): Quercus acuminata, Quercus alexanderi, Quercus prinoides, Quercus prinoides var. acuminata
USDA Symbol: QUMU
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
A tree with light gray platy or scaly bark and smooth, gray twigs changing to brown on the current year’s leaf-bearing growth. Leaves up to 8 inches long and 4 1/2 inches wide with their widest part nearer the apex than the base. Larger leaves broadly rounded from the widest part to the apex and tapered to the base, the smaller ones narrower, leaf margins shallowly lobed or coarsely toothed, each lobe or tooth with a minute tip; the upper surface smooth, with a sheen, the lower surface dull. Flowers inconspicuous in narrow clusters. Fruit an acorn up to 1 inch long and 3/4 inch wide.
The common name refers to the resemblance of the foliage to chinkapins (Castanea), while the Latin species name honors Henry Ernst Muehlenberg (1753-1815), a Pennsylvania botanist. Chinkapin oak can be separated from Q. prinoides on the same site by its single stem and sparse acorn production.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Leaf Retention: Deciduous Leaf Arrangement: Alternate Leaf Complexity: Simple Leaf Shape: Oblanceolate
, Obovate Leaf Venation: Pinnate Leaf Margin: Dentate
, Undulate Leaf Base: Cuneate
, Truncate Leaf Texture:
Leathery Breeding System:
, Monoecious Inflorescence: Catkin Fruit Type: Nut Size Notes:
Medium to large tree
45 - 110 feet
(19.8 - 33.5 m). Leaf:
Leaves shiny dark green above, light green with minute pubescence below. Autumn Foliage:
Acorns annual; 1 - 2 acorns on peduncle
1⁄4 inch (6 mm) in length; thin cup
with gray pubescence, covering 1⁄4 - 1⁄2 of the nut; light brown, oblong
to ovoid nut,
5⁄8 - 1 inch (15 - 25 mm) long. Size Class:
36-72 ft. , 72-100 ft. , More than 100 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
, WV Canada: ON Native Distribution:
Eastern North America from Vermont, New York, and southern Ontario south across the eastern US as far west as Oklahoma, Texas, and southeastern New Mexico, south into northeastern Mexico as far south as Nuevo Leon and Hidalgo. In
from the northeast southwest across central Texas, with a separate population in far west Texas. Native Habitat:
Limestone and calcareous soils in mixed deciduous
and pine forests.
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Medium Light Requirement:
Sun , Part Shade Soil Moisture:
Dry Soil pH:
Alkaline (pH>7.2) CaCO3 Tolerance:
High Soil Description:
Rocky or sandy soils. This oak species is localized throughout its range and seems dependent upon soil type and a pH above 6.0. Conditions Comments:
This very attractive tree
is relatively fast growing and relatively free of diseases and pests. Attractive fall color. Does best in well-drained soil and adapts to many different soil types. Grows in full sun.
Hummingbirds Use Food:
Acorns (nuts) are edible after tannins are leached or boiled out. Gather nuts during the fall from September to October. Only gather the ripe tan-to-brown acorns, rather than the unripe green ones. remove bitterness, shell the brown, ripe acorns and remove any corky skin layers, dice the meat, and boil the chunks in water from 15 to 30 minutes until the water turns brown. Then pour off the water and repeat the process until the water clears, indicating that the tannic acid has been removed. During the last boiling, salt water can be added; then the acorns can be deep fried or mixed in a soup. Finely chopped acorn
meats can be added to bread doughs and muffin batters. After the leaching process, acorn
meat can be frozen. To make flour, the boiled acorn
meat can be split in two and dried by slowly baking in a 200 degree oven with the door cracked to allow moisture to escape. Crush or grind and use as a thickener or a flour. Another method is to roast the fresh acorn
to work well in a grinder or blender. After grinding, place the flour into a cloth bag and boil to leach out bitterness. Leached acorns, after they are roasted until brittle, can be ground and used as a marginal coffee substitute. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.) Use Other:
Liquid merchandise was commonly rolled onto the boat in barrels made of this oak, for though its pores look large, they are admirably plugged by nature and so proof against leakage. (Peattie) Warning:
POISONOUS PARTS: Acorns (seeds of nuts) and young leaves. Low toxicity if eaten. Symptoms include stomach pain, constipation and later bloody diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination. Attracts:
Birds , Butterflies , Hummingbirds Larval Host:
Gray Hairstreak Deer Resistant:
PropagationDescription: Seedlings damp off readily.
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Scarification or hot water treatment is necessary.
Commercially Avail: yes
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Plants for wildlife and trees for shade.
September 29, 2007
We live in Kempner Texas, our land has mostly cedar trees. We would like to make a wildlife habitat on the back side of our property. Can you recommend plants that will grow in shade to partial sun,...
view the full question and answer
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.
Record Last Modified: 2014-02-04
Research By: TWC Staff