Chestnut Oak Tree

Chestnut Oak – Quercus prinus

chestnut oak foliage in orange fall colors

Sometimes called rock oak or tanbark oak, this tree is native to the Appalachian region, the coastal plain of New Jersey, and the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia. Commonly found on dry, infertile soil and rocky ridges, this tree, like many of our native oaks, it grows best in well-drained soils along rivers and streams.  Chestnut oak is not a prodigious acorn producer, and is of medium stature as oaks go; slow-growing and long-lived, the lumber is often marketed as white oak [2].

chestnut oak tree

Chestnut Oak is 35 years old

A variant of this type, chestnut oak-northern red oak, is found in disturbed forests in the Catskills in New York and on Massanutten Mountain in Virginia. The variant chestnut oak-scarlet oak is identified in the central Appalachians, while the variants chestnut oak-pitch pine, chestnut oak-eastern white pine-northern red oak, and chestnut oak-black oak-scarlet oak occur in the southern Appalachians.

chestnut oak range map

Chestnut oak range

Associated species in this type vary greatly by region, elevation, topographic position, and soils, and include other upland oaks and hickories; sweet birch; yellow-poplar (tuliptree); blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica); sweetgum, black cherry, black walnut, red and sugar maples; eastern redcedar, eastern hemlock, and various pines [2].

Chestnut oak is intermediate in shade tolerance. Among the oaks, it is similar in tolerance to white oak, but more tolerant than northern red, black, or scarlet oak. Chestnut oak is susceptible to most of the diseases of oaks including oak wilt (Ceratocystis fagacearum). It is particularly susceptible to the twig-blight fungus Diplodia longispora, a dieback and branch canker caused by Botryodiplodia spp., and, from Virginia northward, stem cankers.

1. Chestnut Oak, Morton Arboretum acc. 55-75-15, photos by Bruce Marlin
2. Robert McQuilkin, USDA Forest Service Manual vol 2. Hardwoods, ‘Chestnut Oak

Family Fagaceae: Oak, Beech & Chinkapin
There are about 900 species in this family worldwide, about 65 trees and 10 shrubs of which are native to North America. Native to the northern hemisphere, the oak genus Quercus contains about 600 species, including both deciduous and evergreen species.
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