Chinkapin Oak - Quercus muehlenbergii
Beech Family (Fagaceae)
- Native habitat: New England to northeastern Mexico on limestone outcrops.
- Growth habit: Because this tree has a diverse range, its form varies with location. It tends to have an open, rounded crown.
- Tree size: The chinkapin oak can reach a height of 40 to 50 feet in the landscape and 70 to 80 feet in the wild. Spread tends to be equal to or greater than height.
- Flower and fruit: Female flowers are inconspicuous; male catkins are pendulous. The small acorn is three-quarters of an inch to an inch long with a thin cap.
- Leaf: Yellow-green above and pale below, the chestnut-like leaves flutter, aspen-like, in the breeze. Fall color is yellow to brown.
- Hardiness: Winter hardy to USDA Zone 5.
The wood of the chinkapin oak has been used for split-rail fences, railroad ties and construction lumber. It is noted historically for its role in fueling steamships along the Ohio River. While this durable wood made excellent fences in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana, when farms fell by the way, the wooden fences were collected and placed on the river bank to sell to passing engineers.