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QUERCUS muehlenbergii

Image of Quercus muehlenbergii

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Fagaceae

Botanical Name

QUERCUS muehlenbergii

Plant Common Name

Chinkapin Oak, Yellow Chestnut Oak

General Description

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.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 2

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    4 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    40'-60' / 12.2m - 18.3m

  • Width

    50'-60' / 15.2m - 18.3m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring

  • Native To

    North America, United States, Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Central United States, South-Central United States, Texas, Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Tolerances

    Pollution

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Red, Light Green, Chartreuse

  • Fruit Color

    Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Yellow Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Yellow, Orange

  • Bark Color

    Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Corky

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Shade Trees

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes