Swamp Chestnut Oak

Quercus michauxii

Description:


The swamp chestnut oak is a highly preferred food source for deer within its range. It ranks up on the list with white oak and chinkapin oak in terms of deer preference. Acorns are very large and mild tasting, not bitter. This oak has a fairly large distribution, but is limited to particular habitat. Acorn production can be spotty, and trees will usually produce very few acorns for the 2-3 years following a bumper crop. It is sometimes called basket oak or cow oak, due to the easily split wood suitable for making baskets and the sweet acorns that are sometimes eaten by cattle.

Distribution:


Eastern US ranging from southeastern Texas north to southern Illinois, east to New Jersey and south to northern Florida.


Distribution Map

Habitat:


Bottomlands, swampy areas, river banks. Does not grow directly in swamps, but will grow on high ground around swamps.

Leaf:


Non-lobed, with a serrated margin. Widest about 2/3 to the apex. Pale green underside. Very similar to that of chestnut oak and chinkapin oak.

Swamp Chestnut Oak

Bark:


Whitish-gray to brownish-gray, and flaky. Occasionally fissured with vertical ridges.

Swamp Chestnut Oak

Acorn:


Large (1" to 2") with a cap covering 1/3 to 1/2 of the nut. Mild taste, very low in tannin.

Swamp Chestnut Oak

Gallery

Look-alike oaks:


Chestnut Oak - leaves are very similar. Acorns of both species are large, but those of chestnut oak are more elongated than those of swamp chestnut oak. The biggest distingusing factor is habitat - swamp chestnut oak grows in bottomlands, while chestnut oak grows on dry, rocky ridges.


Chinkapin Oak - bark and leaves both may be very similar. However, chinkapin oak prefers upland limestone soils, while swamp chestnut oak prefers moist bottomlands and flat land near swamps. Acorn size and color is also very different, with chinkapin oaks having small, dark brown to black acorns.