Gerald L. Klingaman
Plant Common Name
Chinkapin Oak, Yellow Chestnut Oak
The imposing and long-lived chinkapin oak has an open, rounded canopy and lustrous, dark green, oval leaves with wavy, toothed edges. This large deciduous tree is native to the eastern and southern United States and northeastern tip of Mexico. It has a broad, upright trunk with ash gray bark that flakes off in thin strips.
Its oval to pear-shaped leaves are green to yellow green with tan or silvery undersides and distinctly uniform teeth along the edges. In mid-spring, the branch tips yield lots of pendent pollen-shedding male flowers, called catkins. After the pollen is shed, tiny female flowers appear at the bases of newly emerging leaves. Small, sweet brown acorns follow and are fully mature by fall. These are half covered by a hairy, scaled cap and highly sought after by wildlife and humans alike. In autumn the foliage turns yellow or orange-yellow, occasionally with brown or red tones.
Chinkapin oak needs a sunny location and tends to grow in well-drained, limestone soils with a neutral to alkaline pH. Mature trees can tolerate considerable drought but still grow best in soils with average moisture. This oak will tolerate some shade as a seedling and grows the fastest when very young. It does not transplant well, so it is rarely sold as landscape stock. Nonetheless, chinkapin oak makes a fine large landscape tree and is easily grown from seed. It is resistant to the oak wilt disease and best planted in open parks, natural areas or large garden spaces.
AHS Heat Zone
8 - 2
USDA Hardiness Zone
4 - 8
2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17
40'-60' / 12.2m - 18.3m
50'-60' / 15.2m - 18.3m
Spring, Late Spring
North America, United States, Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Central United States, South-Central United States, Texas, Mexico