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How to I.D. an Ozark chinquapin tree

Official Identification Guide

The Ozark chinquapin is a tree native to the mountain regions of Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma with populations occuring in East Texas, Northern Louisiana, Virginia, Alabama, and Mississippi.  It is typically found in dry upland ridges. The tree blooms from late May to early June and reaches heights between 40-60 feet. Click here to learn more about trees commonly mistaken for Ozark chinquapin.

Large blight free Ozark chinquapin  are extremely rareNew tree  discoveries are important to our breeding program to save and restore the species. 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.

Burs:  Very spiny brown burs are in pairs or clusters on short side spurs.  The branches continue to grow after flowering has occurred, so the spurs and burs are several feet from the ends of the branches

Leaves:  There is a lot of variation in leaves among populations and even on individual trees.  The Ozark chinquapin has leaves 5 to 10 inches  long, broadly lanceolate (tapering to a point at the apex and sometimes at the base) to elliptical, with coarse teeth that are 2.5 to 9  millimeters long with whitish  stellate (star shaped) hairs on the lower surfaces beneath.

The Ozark chinquapin is distinguished from Castanea pumila (Allegheny chinquapin) by the larger leaf size, larger teeth, and larger fruit. 

Nuts:  Usually produce  1 nut per spiny bur but sometimes as many as 3. On rare occasions they can have up to 5-6.  Nuts are sweet and delicious making them a favorite of turkey, deer and other wildlife.  The fruits are subglobose (round but not perfectly spherical) to ovoid nuts up to approximately 20 mm (0.8 in) long, and about 10mm wide. 

Bark:  Dark-, light-, or reddish-brown bark becoming moderately to deeply fissured between broad, flat ridges, that break into loose, plate-like scales.  Young trees appear smooth and with age -furrows.

Male flowers in long catkins, borne with bisexual (combination male and female) flowers on the same tree. Male flowers appear in catkins (2”-8” long) in last week of May- early June. Female flowers appear at the base of the male catkins.

Twig: Immature twigs are slender and dark brown; when mature they are stout (exceeding 3 mm in diameter), grey-brown, often faintly fluted, with numerous white pores. 

Buds: Fuzzy, broadly egg-shaped, somewhat flattened and dull pointed.

The Ozark Chinquapin Foundation  |  PO BOX  96, Purdy MO 65734 | ozarkchinqaupinmembership.org  |  copyright© 2019