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Identifying Ozark Chinquapin, Castanea ozarkensis

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.

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

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

Leaves:  There is a lot of variation among populations and individual trees.  Coarsely-toothed, oblong to lanceolate, glabrous, yellowish-green leaves (5”-9” long) which are paler on the underside. Alternate, borne simply; narrow elliptical in shape, often broadest above the middle; bristle tipped; hairy beneath.

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

Nuts:  Usually produce a 1 nut per spiny bur, however, depending on pollination, more than one nut may be present in each bur. Nuts are sweet and delicious making them a favorite of turkey, deer and other wildlife

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.

Flowers: 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.

Habit & Growth Form:  Normally a large to medium-sized multistemmed tree, up to 65 feet tall and 22” in diameter. Canopy is dome shaped. 

Photo:  Left: OCF Founder and President next to large chinquapin. Right: board member Shawn Smith.