Chris Davidson said blight was first reported by soldiers who returned to the Ozarks in the 1940s after World War II to find dead trees.
The historic range of the trees was much larger that it is today. The historic range also included East Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Northern Louisiana and possible Georgia and Virginia.
The trees bloom in late May or early June after the threat of frost. Because of this they consistently produce nuts each year. In the Ozarks, historic accounts indicate that almost pure stands of Ozark Chinquapin sometimes existed. With full sun and ideal conditions Ozark Chinquapin trees will produce nuts in four years The nuts are so nutritious and sought after by wildlife that they are preferred over white oak acorns.
The wood is very rot resistant and trunks of the trees from the 1950’s can occasionally still be found. Even diseased trees can still benefit wildlife.
Trees will usually develop the blight after 5-6 years. Unlike the American chestnut tree the Ozark Chinquapin is more resistant to the blight and will live for another five to six years with the blight. They will also continue to produce nuts even though they are blighted.
Ozark Chinquapin trees are a very fire tolerant species. But because of the blight dead sprouts and dead stump wood acts as a hot fuel on the remaining live sprouts.
Early 1900’s tree books do not use the term ‘Ozark Chinquapin”. It was not considered a separate species and was lumped in with the range of Allegheny chinquapin. Early 1900’s tree book authors made special notation that in the Ozarks of Southern Missouri and in Arkansas the tree grew to an incredible large size. They documented trees 2-3 feet in diameter and 65 feet tall. Not until after the 1930’s-1940’s is the term “Ozark Chinquapin” commonly used in tree books.
Properly done mudpacks can prevent an infected tree from dying of the blight. Very rarely in nature does a disease like the chestnut blight kill 100% of a population.
Ozark Chinquapin that is in the form of stump sprouts do best in full sun. In the forest competition for sunlight prevents the trees from producing as much mast.
The Historic range of the American chestnut never was in the Ozark Mountains. Their historic range was not west of the Mississippi river. Ozark Chinquapin trees were to our Ozarks what the American Chestnut was to the Eastern United States.
***From 1933 to 1942 the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) planted 48,000,0000 trees in Missouri to restore forest and prevent erosion… not one of them was an Ozark chinquapin.***