Chinkapin oak is native to the Midwest, where it is often found as a specimen planting or as a grouping of tree for parks and large areas. Chinkapin oaks are found on dry, limestone outcrops in the wild and perform well in alkaline soils. Its glossy, coarsely-toothed leaves are yellow-green and small compared to most oaks. Young trees retain a pyramidal to oval habit with a pale gray, scaly ridged central trunk. As trees age, the crown becomes more rounded.
This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Chicago area,
- North America
- Residential and parks
- Shade tree,
- Large tree (more than 40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7
- Alkaline soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Moderately Tolerant
- Moderately Tolerant
- Messy fruit/plant parts
- Fall color
Season of Interest:
- Mid fall,
- Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Game birds,
- Game mammals,
- Migrant birds,
- Small mammals
Tree & Plant Care
Best grown in rich, deep soils but often found in the wild on dry, limestone outcrops in low slopes, and wooded hillsides.
One of the best oaks for alkaline soils.
Prune oaks in the dormant season to avoid attracting beetles that may carry oak wilt.
Disease, pests, and problems
Anthracnose, oak wilt, two-lined chestnut borer.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to eastern and central United States
Bark color and texture
Mature bark is ashy-gray with flaky, scaly ridges and plates. The scales are separated by shallow fissures.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Alternate, variable in shape and size, coarsely toothed with each tooth ending in a point.
Leaves are 4 to 6 inches long, dark green and smooth above, often pale and slightly hair beneath.
Fall color is a yellow to orange-brown to brown.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Borne separately on same tree in April and May. Male flowers are clusters of hanging catkins. Female flowers are inconspicuous tiny spikes found in the axils of new leaves.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Small, solitary, 1/2 inch-long acorn with a thin, bowl-shaped, warty cap covering half of the nut. Ripe fruit is dark brown to black.