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Ozark Chinquapin Identification Guide

See the look-alikes page for tree species often mistaken for Ozark chinquapin.


There is a lot of variation among populations and even individual trees. A single tree will have leaves of of varying size.  Leaves are typically 5.5 to 9.5 inches long, and have parallel veins that intersect the tip of long, coarsely serrate teeth. The leaf becomes slightly more broad above the middle portion.  Leaves are arranged in an alternate pattern.

Photo above: Front side

Photo above:  Back side

Photo above:  Teeth 

Photo Above:  Wild seedling; note alternate leaf pattern


Young trees have smooth, dark grey bark, with silver colored markings.  After about 13 years, the bark develops plate-like ridges that are flat and broad, and loosely arranged parallel to one another. The silvery-grey markings remain visible on the ridges of old trees.

Photo above: Bark of 10 year old tree

Photo above: Bark of 13 year old tree (furrows developing)

Photo above:  Approximately 60 years old 

Below: Click on image to enlarge

Growth Form

Photo above:  Large wild Ozark chinquapin in NW Arkansas

Photo above:  Top of large wild Ozark chinquapin

Photo above: Small wild tree

Photo above: Tree grown on research plot in open sunlight, 10 years old

Photo above: Ozark chinquapin growth form (Illistration by Dr. Fred Paillet)


Ozark chinquapin will usually begin producing nuts in 4 years.

Each burr contains a single nut approximately 20mm long and 10mm wide. Sometimes, on rare occasion, a tree (due to genetics) is capable of producing more than one nut per burr and will make 3-5.

Photo above: Ozark chinquapin seed size compared to other species


Each individual burr splits down the center forming two sections. Clusters of  5-10 burrs are located slightly back from the end of the branch, unlike most other chestnut species .  After it rains the burrs swell and decompose, recycling nutrients into the soil which the tree takes up. 


  • Flowers from late May-June
  • Male and female bisexual catkins
  • Monoecious
  • Self-incompatible
  • Wind and insect pollinated

Blooms late May to early June. The trees are monoecious and self-incompatible; they require another tree for pollination. Learn more about Ozark chinquapin wind and insect pollination.

Photo above: Female flowers developing

Chestnuts & chinquapins produce two kinds of flowers, usually at the ends of the branches where they are exposed to full sun, although the Ozark chinquapins produce their flowers on spurs at the sides of the branches. Male catkins produce abundant pollen that is both windborne and carried by insects. The female flowers are prickly involucres with 12 to 18 ovules. The stigmas bristle out of the end of the involucre and are receptive after most of the catkins have bloomed, and remain so for 1 to 2 weeks. Catkins at the of the female flowers delay blooming until the female flowers are receptive.

Twigs & Buds

Twigs are grey, smooth, and stout (thick) with lots of small white pores.  Branches of most Castanea rarely continue to grow beyond the flowers, but since Ozark chinquapin female flowers are formed on short spurs, the main branches continue to elongate. Buds are dark brown and blunt.

Still not sure? See look-alikes often mistaken for Ozark chinquapin.

Report a Tree to the OCF

One of the ways you can help our restoration effort is to help us locate fruiting Ozark chinquapin trees, and report them to the OCF.  If you think you have found a tree and would like us to help you make a positive identification, you can send us pictures of the leaves, bark, nuts, and burs along to ozarkchinquapininfo@gmail.com  with the words “Tree ID” in the subject line.

Photo credit:  Leslie Bost Carter, Ozark Chinquapin Foundation