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Identifying Ozark Chinquapin, Castanea ozarkensis

The Ozark Chinquapin is a small, round top tree native to the mountain regions of Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma.  It is typically found in dry upland ridges. The tree blooms from May to June and reaches heights between 40-60 feet. 

Leaves

Coarsely-toothed, oblong to lanceolate, glabrous, yellowish-green leaves (5”-8” long) which are paler and downy white below. Alternate, borne simply; narrow elliptical in shape, often broadest above the middle; bristle tipped; hairy beneath

Nuts and Burs

Usually produce a single nut covered by a spiny bur, The burs are in pairs or clusters on short side spurs

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 late May-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.

Twigs

Fuzzy; buds broadly egg-shaped, somewhat flattened, dull pointed. Twigs somewhat zigzag in shape, slender with numerous white pores.  The branches continue to grow after flowering has occurred, so the spurs and burs are several feet from the ends of the branches

Ozark chinquapin were formerly a medium size tree, however, due to blight they often present as shrubby trees sprouting from old remaining stumps and root systems. 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. 

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 Ozark Chinquapin Foundation.  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 stevebostocf@gmail.com  with the words “Tree ID” in the subject line.

Below is a table showing the leaves of trees commonly confused for Ozark chinquapin.

chinkapin leaves (2)