Look-alikes

Allegheny Chinkapin (Castanea pumila)

 

Of all the look-a-like species, these two can be the most challenging to separate. At one time the Ozark chinquapin was once thought to be a subspecies of the Allegheny chinkapin. Both have a single nut in each bur and have canoe shaped leaves. Today, genetics and growth habit have clearly shown the two are definitely separate species. Take a closer look at the differences between the Allegheny and Ozark chinquapin.

 Allegheny chinkapin leaves are roughly 5 inches long and have 11-18 veins on one side.
 Ozark chinquapins leaves are between 6-10 inches long and have 15-20 veins on one side.
 Allegheny chinkapins are a shrub that can grow to 30 feet tall and spread out 30 feet.
 Ozark chinquapins are a tree that can grow to 50-70 feet tall and have a crown spread of 40
feet.
 Allegheny chinkapins have shorter petioles 1/8”-3/8”
 Ozark chinquapins have longer petioles 3/8”-3/4”
 The teeth on the leaf margin are shorter on an Allegheny chinkapin 1/16”-1/8”
 The teeth on the leaf margin are shorter on an Ozark chinquapin 1/8”-3/8”
 Allegheny chinkapins have shorter spines on their burs ¼”-3/8”
 Ozark chinquapins have longer spines on their burs 3/8”-1/2”
 Allegheny tend to have fewer burs per spike. 2-7 per spike
 Ozark chinquapins have more burs per spike. 4-13 per spike.

Chinese Chestnut (Castanea mollissima)

 

Would it surprise you to learn there are many Chinese chestnuts scattered around the Ozarks? In most cases they were planted around farm houses a food sources and novelty. Chestnuts and chinquapins are all closely related so they share the spiny bur, low tannin nuts, blooms in May/June and rot resistant wood. Today, some reports of potential Ozark chinquapins with spiny burs end up being a Chinese chestnut. So here are some clues to help you identify the two trees.

 Chinese chestnuts have three nuts per bur and are flattened.
 Ozark chinquapins have one nut per bur and are round.
 Chinese chestnuts are more than two inches wide.
 Ozark chinquapin burs are about an inch or more wide.
 When Chinese chestnut burs open up they have four valves that split apart.

 When Ozark chinquapin burs open up they have two valves that split apart.
 Chinese chestnuts have longer spines on the bur ranging from ½” -3/4”
 Ozark chinquapins have shorter spines on the bur ranging from 3/8”-1/2”
 Chinese chestnut leaves are roughly 6 inches long and have 14-19 veins on one side.
 Ozark chinquapins leaves are between 6-10 inches long and have 15-20 veins on one side.
 Chinese chestnut leaves are glossy.
 Ozark chinquapin leaves are dull and lack gloss.
 Chinese chestnut leaves oval to rowboat shaped.
 Ozark chinquapin leaves are oval with a sharp point, almost like a canoe shape.

Chinkapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii)

 

These two trees share the word chinkapin/chinquapin in their name because their leaves resemble each other. But there are radical differences that can help you identify them. Both trees are in the tree family Fagaceae but oaks are in the genus Quercus and chestnuts/chinquapins are in the genus Castanea.

 Oaks have acorns with a cap.
 Chinquapins are chestnuts with nuts borne in a spiny bur.
 Oaks bloom in April.
 Chinquapins bloom in late May and early June.
 Oak flowers have no odor.
 Chinquapin blooms have a distinctive odor.
 Chinquapin oak leaves are 5 inches long with 10-14 veins on one side (left or right).
 Ozark chinquapins leaves are between 6-10 inches long and have 15-20 veins on one side.
 Ozark chinquapin leaves have a less waxy sheen compared to Chinquapin oaks.
 Petiole (the part connecting the mid vein to the tree stem) is ½” to over 1 ½” long.

Addition Identification help

Our Tree Identification page is a good reference guide as well as this Photo Gallery