Prominent and prosperous in its abundance of fruit and shelter, the Chinkapin Oak (also spelled “Chinquapin”) serves as a magnificent shade tree and ornamental specimen, ideal for large lawns, parks, and estates. Known for its robust, ridged branches and its coarsely toothed leaves, the Chinkapin Oak is also a generous provider of sweet acorns, thereby attracting a variety of wildlife. Its leaves are yellow-green on top with pale silvery undersides; in the fall, these hues gradually brighten to sunny yellow, giving this gentle giant some well-deserved radiance.
A white oak variety of the Fagaceae family, Quercus Muehlenbergii is native to central and eastern North America, found from Vermont to South Carolina and ranging westward to Wisconsin and northeastern Mexico. Its binomial name honors Pennsylvanian botanist and Lutheran pastor Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst Mühlenberg. The Chinkapin Oak grows willingly in association with other tree species, and is a common forest tree, though it is intolerant of shade (growing all the more intolerant with age). A mature Chinkapin Oak may reach heights of 40-60 ft., with a slightly wider span of approximately 50-70 ft. Its thick deciduous canopy crests in a rounded or irregular crown of dark green leaves—embellished from April to May with yellow-green catkins—which later lighten to toffee-yellow autumnal hues.
This species closely resembles its cousin the Chestnut Oak, but there are distinct differences. The Chinkapin Oak’s leaves are distinguished by their rounded teeth, instead of the saw-toothed fringe noted on the Chestnut Oak’s leaves; the Chinkapin Oak also possesses an ash-gray, ridged, flaky bark that includes lighter yellow-brown undertones. The Chinkapin Oak’s acorns, which mature from its very first year, are also slightly smaller than the Chestnut Oak’s. Like most other oak varieties, this species favors full sun and medium to dry, well-drained soils; it has a 5-7 hardiness zone rating, and is generally found upland and in loams derived from limestone.
The Chinkapin Oak can be susceptible to diseases and pests, and a severe wildfire can leave fire scars that serve as entry points for rot-causing fungi. However, unlike other white oak varieties, the Chinkapin Oak has a durable hardwood timber that is prized and used for many styles of construction. In the past, this timber has been used to build fences, fuel steamships, and create railroad ties.
Photos Paul Wray, Iowa State University, Bugwood.org
Photos Copyright © Horticopia, Inc. 2017
This Tree's Zone: 5 to 7
Your Growing Zone:
|Bloom Time||April to May|
|Shape||Irregular to round|
|Size||40 to 60 feet|
|Spread||50 to 70 feet|