Castanea ozarkensis
Common Name: Ozark chinquapin 
Type: Tree
Family: Fagaceae
Native Range: Southern central United States
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 40.00 to 60.00 feet
Spread: 40.00 to 60.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Yellowish-white
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: High
Flower: Insignificant
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Tolerate: Deer

Culture

Grow in moist, well-drained loams in full sun. Species plants should not be planted as ornamentals at this time due to susceptibility to chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica formerly known as Endothia parasitica). At this time, there is no known method for preventing or treating infected trees. No resistant strains have been developed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Castanea ozarkensis, commonly called Ozark Chinquapin, is a small tree or large shrub that is native to the Ozark-Ouachita Mountain regions of Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. In Missouri, it is typically found in dry upland ridges in the far southern part of the State (Steyermark). Ozark Chinquapin was formerly a medium sized tree rising to a stately 60’ tall or more, but chestnut blight has now reduced its status in most areas to that of a shrubby tree that sprouts from old remaining stumps and root systems. The blight attacks the cambium of the tree, eventually girdling branches and trunks resulting in death of the tree. Chestnut blight attacks the above ground parts of the tree. The surviving roots can produce new stump growth of sprouts that will develop into small trees (to 20-30’ tall) until reinfection inevitably reoccurs. Coarsely-toothed, oblong to lanceolate, glabrous, yellowish-green leaves (5-8” long) are paler and downy-white below. Leaves are similar in appearance to those of Chinquapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii). Leaves turn shades of yellow in fall. Male flowers appear in catkins (2-8” long) in late May-June. Female flowers appear at the base of male catkins. Fruits are spiny burs (to 1 1/4” diameter) that appear in small clusters, with each bur encasing one small rounded seed (sweet-tasting edible chestnut). These chestnuts were once a food source for native Americans and early settlers as well as for a variety of mammals (e.g., squirrels, chipmunks and deer) and birds (e.g., turkey and bobwhite). This species is synonymous with and sometimes listed as Castanea pumila var. ozarkensis.

Genus name comes from the Latin name for this tree which was derived from the town of Castania in Thessaly where the trees reportedly grew in abundance.

The specific epithet refers to the Ozark Mountains.

Problems

Chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica formerly Endothia parasitica). Also susceptible to leaf spots, anthracnose, canker and powdery mildew.

Garden Uses

None for the species.