Chinkapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii): Native Plant Guide

 Common name Chinkapin oak, yellow chestnut oak
 Botanical Name Quercus muehlenbergii
 Family Fagaceae
 Plant Type Tree
 Mature Size 50 to 80 ft. tall, 50 to 70 ft. wide
 Sun Exposure Full sun
 Soil Type  Loamy, sandy, clay, silt, moist but well-drained
 Soil pH  Acidic (6.5) to alkaline (above 7.0)
 Bloom Time Spring
 Flower Color Inconspicuous
 Hardiness Zones3-9, USA
 Native Area North America

Chinkapin Oak Care 

Chinkakpin oak is a low-maintenance tree; the only finicky part is to transplant it successfully. The tree has a deep root system with a taproot and when it’s sold as a balled and burlapped tree at a nursery, a significant portion of the root system might be missing. When buying a chinkapin oak, inquire whether it as has been root-pruned, which gives the tree a much better chance of survival.

While it can be grown on very dry, poor soils, chinkapin oak takes a more shrubby appearance in these tough locations.

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

epantha / Getty Image


Chinkapin oak needs full sun, at least 6 hours direct sunlight per day.


The tree can be grown in all types of soil, but it prefers well-drained soil, and a pH from weakly acid to alkaline. 


Like all newly planted trees, in the absence of rain, a young newly transplanted chinkapin oak needs to be watered at least weekly during the first growing season. Established chinkapin oak tolerates dry soil and does not need watering except in an extended drought.

Temperature and Humidity

The native habitat of of the tree is a large geographical area as far north as New England and as far south as northeastern Mexico. It is highly adaptable to a a wide range of climate conditions and can grow both in locations with subzero winters as well as in hot, humid climates.


Chinkapin oak can grow even in poor soils and needs no fertilization. Just because it is a hardy tree doesn’t mean you should neglect it. Occasional mulching can be helpful.

Types of Chinkapin Oak

There are no cultivars of chinkapin oak, but there is dwarf chinkapin oak or dwarf chestnut oak, also a native. It that can be grown as a large shrub or small tree that reaches 12 to 25 ft. in height and 12 to 25 ft. in width. It is a a different species (Quercus prinoides) whose growing conditions are very similar to chinkapin oak, and with a similar leaf and fall color.


Except for removing crossing, broken or diseased branches, the tree does not require pruning. Only prune while the tree is dormant and not during the growing season, as it stresses the tree and makes it more susceptible to oak wilt.

Chinkapin oak acorns

Dan Mullen / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

How to Grow Chinkapin Oak From Seed

To successfully grow chinkapin oak from acorns, collect them immediately after they dropped. Place them in a bowl of cold water; viable seeds will sink to the bottom while those with low viability will float. Discard those and plant the viable acorns right away to achieve optimum germination rate. If you store the acorns over the winter, the germination rate can drop from over 90 precent to less than 50 percent.

Plant the acorns sideways 3/4 to 1 inch deep in pots first or directly in their permanent location. Water them with at least 1 inch of water every week if it doesn’t rain. Cover the soil with 2 to 3 inches of mulch or straw, which will help suppress weeds and protect the seedlings against frost heave. The acorns will soon start germinating, then growth will stop during cold weather and restart in the spring. Be very careful when pulling weeds so that you don’t uproot the tender seedlings.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases 

As a native tree, chinkapin oak is relatively resistant to insects and diseases. But when the tree is under stress, such as from too much or too little water, soggy or compacted soil, or road salt, it can be affected by disease. One of the most damaging is the fungus oak wilt, which kills the tree in fewer than a few years. Other diseases include cankers, shoestring root rot, anthracnose, and leaf blister.

An infestation with gypsy moth and orange-striped oakworm, and the variable oakleaf caterpillar can defoliate the tree.


  • This tree has a slow to moderate growth rate, ranging from less than 12 to 24 inches per year, and its growth rate slows down with age.

  • In the fall, the foliage color ranges from yellow to orange-brown or bronze.

  • In the spring the tree sheds its catkins, and in the fall it drops its leaves and acorns, which provide food for wildlife. The trees produce a large amount of seeds (acorns) every two or more years, alternating with years of little or no acorn production.

  • Yes, it belongs to the white oak group, the Quercus subgenus Leucobalanus. Unlike most other white oak species, however, chinkapin oak grows in alkaline soil.

Disclaimer: Curated and re-published here. We do not claim anything as we translated and re-published using google translator. All images and Tattoo Design ideas shared only for information purpose.

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