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Chinkapin Oak

Quercus muehlenbergii


The chinkapin oak is a medium sized tree that will occasionally grow large with a massive trunk. Found in rocky soil and near creek bluffs, it is highly preferred by deer, turkey and other wildlife. Acorns have little to no bitterness. It is a spotty producer of acorns, with some trees producing a large crop every 2-3 years while others may have almost none.


Central and eastern US.

Distribution Map


Rich soil often around limestone; this includes river bluffs, rolling terrain, cedar thickets, pastures.


Oblong, with a wavy or sawtooth margin, no lobes. Varies in size with shade leaves often much larger than sun leaves.

Chinkapin Oak


Gray to white, flaky. Lower and upper bark is very similar, but young twigs may be smooth.

Chinkapin Oak


Small to medium (1/2 to 1") and egg-shaped, dark brown to almost black, with a cap that covers about 1/3 of the nut. Caps will separate from the nut when ripe, and the nut often resembles a black olive.

Chinkapin Oak


Look-alike oaks:

Chestnut Oak - leaves are similar, but bark of chestnut oak is deeply furrowed and acorns are much larger than those of chinkapin oak. Deer highly prefer chinkapin oak but generally ignore acorns of chestnut oak if other acorns are present.

Swamp Chestnut Oak - leaves and bark are both similar, but acorns of swamp chestnut oak are much larger, and habitat is different. Swamp chestnut oak is found in bottomlands near water, while chinkapin oak is found in rocky limestone soils. Acorns of both species are highly preferred by deer.

Sawtooth Oak - leaves may be similar, but those of sawtooth oak have small bristle tips on each tooth of the leaf margin. Bark and acorns are entirely different, with sawtooth oak bark being dark brown and furrowed, while chinkapin oak bark is almost white and flaky. Sawtooth oak acorns have large, shaggy caps unlike those of chinkapin oak.

Dwarf Chinkapin Oak - this is a much smaller species that often doesn't get much bigger than a shrub. Unlike chinkapin oak, dwarf chinkapin oak is found in sandy or shale soils rather than rocky limestone soils.

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