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Chinkapin Oak

Quercus muehlenbergii

Chinkapin Oak

Quercus muehlenbergii

This product is currently out of stock and unavailable.

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How are the heights measured?

All tree, and nothin' but the tree! We measure from the top of the soil to the top of the tree; the height of the container or the root system is never included in our measurements.

What is a gallon container?

Nursery containers come in a variety of different sizes, and old-school nursery slang has stuck. While the industry-standard terminology is to call the sizes "Gallon Containers", that doesn't exactly translate to the traditional liquid "gallon" size we think of. You'll find we carry young 1-gallons, up to more mature 7-gallons ranging anywhere from 6 inches to 6ft.

How does the delivery process work?

All of our orders ship via FedEx Ground! Once your order is placed online, our magic elves get right to work picking, staging, boxing and shipping your trees. Orders typically ship out within 2 business days. You will receive email notifications along the way on the progress of your order, as well as tracking information to track your plants all the way to their new home!

Why are some states excluded from shipping?

The short & sweet answer is: "United States Department of Agriculture Restrictions." Every state has their own unique USDA restrictions on which plants they allow to come into their state. While we wish we could serve everyone, it's for the safety of native species and helps prevent the spread of invasive disease & pests. We've gotta protect good ole' Mother Nature, after all.

About Me

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The Chinkapin Oak is a large tree with strong limbs and a wide-spreading crown. In time it can reach 60 feet tall and over 80 feet wide, with pale, flaking bark. The handsome glossy leaves turn golden in fall, and the acorns are considered the sweetest and best for eating fresh or cooking – a very nutritious flour can be made from them. Plant it on a large lawn, on rocky slopes, even on limestone, and to diversify existing woodlands. Make a contribution to future forests with this long lived, majestic tree.

  • Lovely native oak with golden fall colors
  • The best and sweetest acorns for forage cooking
  • Tolerant of alkaline soils and limestone
  • Important component of natural ecology
  • Ideal for diversifying existing woodlands

The Chinkapin Oak needs full sun, although young trees will tolerate some shade. It grows best in moderate climates. It will grow in all well-drained soils, even poorer, dry ones, and even on alkaline soils, where most oaks fail. It supports a diversity of butterflies and insects, and the acorns provide valuable food for birds and mammals. Self-sufficient once it is established, and drought resistant, it benefits from some formative pruning when young.

Plant Hardiness Zones 5-7
Mature Width 15-80
Mature Height 15-50
Soil Conditions Well-Drained Soil
Sunlight Full Sun
Drought Tolerance Moderate Drought Tolerance
Zones 5-7

Eating acorns is probably not high on your dietary list, although in times of war and hardship people around the world have resorted to it. Before eating acorns you usually need to remove the tannic acid that makes them inedible – a complex process only a very hungry person would go through. Usually. . . America has many blessings, and among them are the acorns of the Chinkapin Oak tree. These are the most delicious of all, low in tannins, sweet, and delicious even raw. Acorns are highly nutritious – just ask pigs and wild turkeys – and besides the tasty carbs and fats (mostly unsaturated) there is lots of protein, iron, Vitamin B6 and Potassium. They are considered the most nutritious of all foraged foods, and if you grow a Chinkapin Oak Tree in your yard, you will be able to collect them right at home and enjoy a natural bounty. Delicious and healthy acorn cake or griddle cakes are just a start – use them in the same ways as sweet chestnuts in many recipes.

Of course, there are lots of other reasons to plant a Chinkapin Oak tree. This American native tree is similar to white oak, but grows well on dry areas, and on alkaline soils, where most oak trees won’t. It’s a wonderful large tree for a larger garden, or added to existing woodland, and with its long life you are planting a tree for the future – and what more satisfying thing can there be than that?

Growing the Chinkapin Oak

Size and Appearance

The Chinkapin Oak is a large deciduous tree that will grow to about 15 feet in the first 10 years, and after that grow a little more slowly, eventually reaching between 50 tall and 80 wide. The largest wild tree in the country is 66 feet tall and 113 feet wide. This is a tree that will continue to grow for hundreds of years, becoming more and more majestic over time. The distinctive bark is pale gray and flaking, sometimes with a yellowish or whitish tone, especially on younger stems. Rather than forming a single trunk it will often become a multi-stem tree, unless trained at an early age to a single trunk. The broad crown has many large limbs in it. The leaves are smaller than many oaks, about 4 inches long, with many shallow lobes along the edges, each one ending in a point. The leaves are leathery, glossy and dark-green and resemble those of the chestnut tree. In fall they turn dark yellow, with brown overtones, contrasting well with the pale bark.

Once established a tree will begin to flower. In spring clusters of short catkins form, these are the male, pollen flowers. The female flowers are short, and develop into acorns, often in pairs, with a smooth shell and a rough cup holding it. The acorns are between ¾ and 1-inch long, and the flesh inside is sweet and low in tannic acid, tasty even raw, and ideal for cooking. They ripen in September and October. If you don’t eat them, local birds, from songbirds to grouse and wild turkey, certainly will.

Using the Chinkapin Oak in Your Garden

The Chinkapin Oak is a tree for a larger property. It is great as a lawn specimen, but don’t plant within 30 feet of a building, property line, roadway, or beneath overhead wires. It is ideal for adding to existing woodlands, or for planting on sloping ground and limestone bluffs. It is perfect for adding diversity to existing areas of native trees like maple, ash, beech, pines and other oaks. Because it lives so long, and takes some years to mature, this is a tree to plant for the future, as it will probably be around for your great-great-grandchildren.

Hardiness

The Chinkapin Oak grows well in zones 5, 6 and 7, in areas with moderate seasons.

Sun Exposure and Soil Conditions

Full sun is best for the Chinkapin Oak. It has shade tolerance as a young tree, but not when it matures. The south side of woods is a good location for it, or on sunny slopes. It is unique among oaks for its tolerance of alkaline soil, and grows naturally even on limestone. If you have failed with oak before, and seen the leaves turn yellow, then this is the species for you. Once established it has good drought tolerance, and grows well on drier soils. It will also grow well on more moist, richer soils.

Maintenance and Pruning

The Chinkapin Oak is very low maintenance, after a season or two of summer watering. It helps to do some pruning after a year or two, to build an open form, with well-spaced branches in the crown. You could also remove lower branches a few at a time to progressively create a taller single trunk. Otherwise, it will grow as it would in nature – by itself.

History and Origin of the Chinkapin Oak

Chinkapin Oak, Quercus muehlenbergii, is a close relative of the chestnut oak, and part of the white oak species group. Its name comes from Gotthilf Muhlenberg, a pastor and amateur botanist in Pennsylvania in the second half of the 18th century. It grows from southern Ontario, Canada all the way to New Mexico, throughout the east but not along the coast, preferring mountainous areas, especially further south. It is often found on limestone bluffs and outcrops. The acorns are valuable food for birds and mammals, and different butterflies feed on the foliage, adding to local diversity.

Buying the Chinkapin Oak at the Tree Center

Planting large trees is always an adventure, and a sign of face in the future. That can be hard in these changing times, but when you plant a tree you make a positive contribution to continuity, and add to our vital tree populations. The Chinkapin Oak is a great choice, but order right away – our stock of these healthy young trees is not going to be around long. Join the people who plant for a better future.

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Chinkapin Oak

Quercus muehlenbergii