Swamp Chestnut Oak TreeQuercus michauxxii
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The Swamp Chestnut Oak is one of our most beautiful and majestic native oak trees, growing 2 feet a year to become in time a tree at least 70 feet tall and 50 feet wide. It has a rounded crown supported by a massive trunk. The leathery leaves are glossy, deep green, broad and without the deep lobes of most other oak trees. They turn rusty shades of yellow and red in late fall, and often stay on the tree well into the winter. Older trees produce crops of acorns that are naturally sweet, and can be eaten raw. They are important food for turkeys, deer, squirrels, woodpeckers and cows enjoy them too. A tree for larger gardens as a lawn specimen or shade tree. Plant it also in natural areas, especially wet places, along rivers and in areas subject to flooding.
The Swamp Chestnut Oak grows best in full sun, but it will grow up through some shade into the light. Plant in any reasonably moist soil, and in wet soils and areas subject to flooding. Drought-resistant once established, and able to grow well in all but the driest places. Normally free of pests or diseases and needs no particular care. Water young trees regularly. Keep a main central leading stem for as long as possible, and remove lower branches to expose the trunk early, so that scars are not left.
If you are looking for a fast-growing but long-lived tree for a larger garden, then let us recommend the Swamp Chestnut Oak. One of the fastest growing oaks around, adding 2 feet each year, the unique foliage of this tree makes it instantly recognizable. Instead of the classic lobed ‘oak leaf’, the leaves are broad and glossy, with undulated edges. They do indeed look a bit like chestnut leaves – hence the name, and turn dark reds and browns in fall. Something else special about this tree are the acorns, which are sweet and tasty, while most acorns are bitter. Growing to around 50 feet tall, or more, this grand tree is long-lived and majestic, a worthy specimen for now, and for the future. A member of the white oak family, this native tree is remarkable, and valuable wherever you want (and have the space) for a large deciduous tree. It’s especially useful for wet areas, but is reliable in normal soils too, and drought-resistant once established. Choose quality, beauty and grandeur without having to wait decades – plant a Swamp Chestnut Oak.
The Swamp Chestnut Oak is a handsome deciduous tree native to America, which grows at about 2 feet a year, reaching as much as 30 feet in a decade under good growing conditions. Wild trees are among our largest, with some reaching 140 feet tall, but in garden situations you can expect a mature height of around 70 feet, with at least a 50 foot spread. Choose the planting spot carefully and be sure you have enough room. Plant at least 25 feet from your home and other structures or property lines, and don’t plant beneath overhead cables and wires. This is a tree for larger properties, with a long potential life of several hundred years. It has an upright, oval form when young, becoming broader and more rounded with age. The trunk develops to a massive diameter, with gray to gray-brown bark with relatively shallow grooves separating plates of scaly bark.
The leathery leaves are broad ovals, often wider in the upper half, and they are bright green in spring, becoming dark green and glossy, with grayish, softly hairy undersides. They are usually 4 to 8 inches long, but can be larger. The edges are undulating, without the deep lobes we usually expect on an oak tree. In fall they turn bronzy-yellow and rusty-red, coloring late in the season and often staying on the tree well into the winter.
Once trees are 20 to 25 years old they begin to flower, with greenish and reddish catkins in early spring. These develop into 1-inch acorns with a rough cap covering about half the seed. Unusually, the acorns are sweet and tasty, and can be eaten without any treatment to remove bitterness. Wildlife loves them too, and cows learn they are sweet and seek them out, giving this tree an alternative name of cow oak.
With its rapid growth this is a perfect choice for a large lawn, and will develop into a majestic, beautiful specimen throwing a large area of shade. It can also be used in more natural settings, on slopes and around woods, beside water – where it thrives – and to enrich existing natural woodlands and wetlands.
Although only found growing wild in the south, the Swamp Chestnut Oak has good cold resistance, and grows well in zone 5. It succeeds in all warmer areas too, growing in the heat and humidity of the south-east well into zone 9.
The Swamp Chestnut Oak grows best in full sun, although a young tree will handle the shade of surrounding trees while it grows into the light. Plant it in almost any soil that isn’t excessively dry, and preferably acidic or neutral. This tree is an excellent choice for wetter ground and grows well even in areas that are frequently flooded, such as along river banks and beside lakes.
You won’t normally have any pest or disease problems with the Swamp Chestnut Oak, which is easy to grow and reliable. It is best to prune enough to keep a single central leading stem growing upwards for as long as possible, to make a strong tree more resistant to storm damage. Remove lower branches early to develop a high trunk if you want that. Removing large limbs later will leave scars on the trunk that may never heal over.
Swamp Chestnut Oak, Quercus michauxii, grows naturally throughout the east, from New Jersey to Florida and westward through Missouri into Texas. It is usually found in moist areas along rivers, on floodplains, in wetlands and at the bottom of ravines. It was named by Thomas Nuttall, an English botanist who explored and named plants across large parts of North America in the early 19th century. The name is in honor of the French botanist André Michaux, who, among other works, wrote a book on American Oaks in 1801. Being French, this means the name of this tree should be pronounced without the ‘x’, as ‘mi-show-e-i’.
The Swamp Chestnut Oak is highly regarded as one of the most majestic and beautiful of our native oak trees. Yet it is rarely offered. Our trees are grown from seed, so they preserve the natural diversity of the species. Take this opportunity to grow something special and almost certainly not in your neighborhood. Order now, though, as we only have a limited stock and trees of this rarity and quality sell out fast.