Tuesday, February 3, 2015

First in a Series - Chinquapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii)

Chinquapin Oak is a spreading tree that is native to the greater Midwest, ranging downward to the deep South and over into the eastern edge of the Great Plains. In Ohio, it is scattered or absent in the northeastern quadrant of the state, is present in the northwestern and southern counties, but predominates in the southwestern counties that have an abundance of calcareous soils (that is, those high in pH and rich in limestone bedrock). It commonly grows in dry, upland sites but makes its best growth on rich, deep bottomlands. Its leaves may in some cases be almost lance-shaped and with their crenations pointing forward, somewhat resembling the flint arrows of Native Americans.

Chinquapin Oak is also spelled Chinkapin Oak, and is also known as Yellow Oak or Yellow Chestnut Oak. It grows to 60 feet tall by 80 feet wide when found in the open, often with wide-spreading lower branches of great diameter. As a member of the White Oak group and the Beech Family, it is related to the Beeches, Chestnuts, and other Oaks.

Chinquapin Oak has leaves that look like smaller versions of the foliage of Swamp White Oak. Leaves are alternate, glossy, oblong to slightly obovate, with margins that may be deeply crenate or shallowly crenate. Fall color is usually chartreuse to yellow-brown, but leaf drop is usually complete in late autumn
Its acorns are relatively small, but the tree is more easily identified in winter by its fallen acorn caps on the ground (and even some caps retained on the twigs), as they are small but wide, with a smooth inner lining that looks like a shiny bowl.

Planting Requirements - Chinquapin Oak prefers moist, well-drained, deep, rich, alkaline soils, but ironically is often found near the summit of hills or uplands in dry soils that may be rich, clay, sandy, or rocky. It also tolerates neutral to acidic soils. It thrives in full sun to partial sun (but is shade tolerant in youth) and is found in zones 4 to 8.

Potential Problems - Chinquapin Oak is subject to the usual array of pests and pathogens that can affect many Oaks, none of which are usually serious.

The Chinquapin Oak  is one of 6 tree seedlings which will be offered in the 2015 Tree Sale held by the Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District.  Other seedlings include White Pine, Black Walnut, Hazelnut, Red Bud, and Flowering Dogwood. Also available this year are 2 varieties of standard pear trees; Potomac and Crispie. The sale will include Sierra Blueberries and Triple Crown thornless Blackberries.  We will offer two cover crop seed mixes for gardeners; a Fall Cover mix, and new this year, a mix that can be interseeded into a producing vegetable garden in late summer.  And as usual, the district has high quality all cedar birdfeeders and houses for sale.  For more information and to receive an order blank, please call 740-435-0408.

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