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Identifying Ozark Chinquapin, Castanea ozarkensis

The Ozark chinquapin is a round top 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.

Leaves

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. Leaves are larger than Allegheny chinkapin’s

Photo shows young oc leaves taken from trees and innoculated to determine level of blight resistance

Nuts and Burs

Usually produce a 1-3  nuts per spiny bur, The burs are in pairs or clusters on short side spurs.  Produces a large amount of nuts every year.

Depending on pollination, more than one nut can be present in each bur
Nuts are sweet and delicious, slightly larger than Allegheny chinkapin making them a big hit with turkey, deer and other wildlife

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.

Bark

Bark is light brown; flattened with ridges. Young trees appear smooth and with age develop deep long furrows.

Older Ozark chinquapin tree
Young OC tree

Twigs

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.

STATURE

Ozark chinquapin are medium-large size trees reaching up to 65 feet tall and 2-3 feet diameter. . The chestnut blight attacks the upper part of the tree. The surviving roots can then produce a new stump growth of sprouts that develop into small trees, giving them a shrubby appearance.

Young tree growing on test plot
Steve Bost standing next to a large OC
8 year old trees at one of our research orchards in Missouri
Shawn Smith standing next to a big Ozark chinquapin tree

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.