Tennessee Smart Yards Native Plants

A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants

Chinquapin Oak, Chinkapin Oak, Rock Oak, Yellow Chestnut Oak

Chinquapin Oak, Chinkapin Oak, Rock Oak, Yellow Chestnut Oak

Quercus muehlenbergii

Full sun; medium to moderately dry moisture level; soils include fertile loams, sandy loam, sandy, rocky, and shallow soils over sandstone or limestone; mildly acid to alkaline pH.

40-60 feet height by 50-70 feet spread; blooms in spring with yellow-green, male catkins, 3-4 inches long, and inconspicuous green to reddish female spikes; chestnut brown to nearly black acorns, ½ – ¾ inch long in fall. Acorns mature in one year.

Growth Rate: Medium in youth and then slowing with age

Maintenance: All oaks are susceptible to a large number of diseases, including oak wilt, oak leaf blister, cankers, leaf spots and powdery mildew. Potential insect pests including scale, oak skeletonizer, leaf miner, oak lace bugs, borers, caterpillars and nut weevils. Notwithstanding these problems, oaks are generally considered to be low maintenance trees.

Propagation: Seed germination code A. Somewhat difficult to transplant as root system consists of a taproot and spreading lateral roots.

Native Region: Statewide

Attractive, medium-sized oak that makes a good shade tree but is uncommonly cultivated. Leaves somewhat resemble leaves of the chestnut tree whose nut is sometimes called a chinquapin, hence the common name. Fall color is variable, usually undistinguished shades of yellow and brown. In the wild it is found on dry limestone outcrops and alkaline soils. Drought tolerant. May take up to 30 years to bear its first crop of acorns. Acorns are sweet and edible right off the tree.

Attracts birds, butterflies and hummingbirds. Larval host plant for White M Hairstreak and Gray Hairstreak butterflies.

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