Oak, Swamp Chestnut
The sun-loving Swamp Chestnut Oak looms to heights of 100 ft., reigning as one of the strongest native shade trees and providing dense and dependable shade. Its acorns are exceptionally large and are known to be a favorite food source for white-tailed deer, black bears, turkeys, and many more types of wildlife. In the autumn months, its glossy leaves shift to deep hues of red and coppery brown, effectively warming the tone of any landscape. Characterized also by its hardiness, this species can withstand temporary flooding, droughts, and the majority of major pests and plant diseases.
Native to the wetlands and bottomlands of southeastern America, the Swamp Chestnut Oak establishes itself in medium to wet, well-drained soils, dispersed from New Jersey to Texas. Scientifically classified as Quercus Michauxii (named after French botanist Frances A. Michaux, who wrote extensively about eastern North American trees), the Swamp Chestnut Oak belongs to the Fagaceae family. It is also known as “Basket Oak” (since its wood is sometimes stripped into fibers and splits, then used to weave baskets) and “Cow Oak” (because cows are partial to the tree’s acorns). Its common name also implies this tree’s close resemblance to the Chestnut Oak; the Swamp Chestnut Oak is most apparently differentiated by its superior height (typically 40-60 ft., with a 30-50 ft. span; the nation’s current champion towers over 150 ft.), its plated gray bark (not as deeply ridged as the Chestnut Oak’s), and its preference for more moist environments and exposure to full sun. This species has a 5-9 hardiness zone rating.
Though endemic to wetlands, the Swamp Chestnut Oak can be certainly cultivated along streets and in lawns, displaying a high tolerance to urban conditions. Its structure is upright with an oval spread, reaching its full potential when the central trunk dominates the rounded canopy. The Swamp Chestnut Oak’s deciduous leaves are simple and fringed with rounded teeth, colored a lush green that later transforms to attractive autumnal hues. Its yellow-red catkins emerge from April to May, replaced in the autumn by tiny acorns. These nuts are plentiful, relatively sweet, and can even be eaten right off the tree, but they are produced only once every several years.
The wood of the Swamp Chestnut Oak resembles that of other white oaks, and can be merged with them and marketed as such. Its timber has been capitalized for flooring, tool handles, and fence posts; due to its suppleness, it can furthermore be sliced into flexible strips for basket-making and other such crafts. Even the Swamp Chestnut Oak’s dried leaves serve as excellent mulch.
This Tree's Zone: 5 to 9
Your Growing Zone:
|Fall Foliage||Dark red|
|Bloom||Yellow and red|
|Bloom Time||April to May|
|Size||40 to 60 feet|
|Spread||30 to 50 feet|