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Castanea pumila

Phonetic Spelling
kas-tah-NAY-ah POO-mil-ah
Description

Chinkapin is a monoecious multi-stemmed, thicket-forming shrub or small tree with spreading lower branches and ascending upper branches. If grown as a tree in can reach 15-30 feet tall. It is resistant to the chestnut blight and can usually recover if infected. It can be found from the coast to 4500 feet elevation in the mountains. 

Chinkapin nuts are palatable to humans as well as wildlife. They have a sweet flavor and are eaten by many birds and mammals. They can be difficult to harvest and are not grown commercially. Its wood is light, hard, close-grained, and strong. It is used for fence posts and fuel although it is not timbered because of its small stature and scattered occurrence.

This tree prefers dry, acidic to neutral, well-drained soils in full sun to partial shade. Use as a small shade tree or to provide food for yourself and wildlife in a lawn or naturalized area.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  Chinkapin is moderately resistant to chestnut blight, but fewer trees are reported each year due to the inhibitory effects of the fungus.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Fuller', 'Rush'
Tags:
#deciduous#easy to grow#nuts#fire#medium flammability#NC native#larval host plant#messy fruits#food source fall#food source herbage#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#butterfly friendly#audubon#yellow fall color
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Fuller', 'Rush'
Tags:
#deciduous#easy to grow#nuts#fire#medium flammability#NC native#larval host plant#messy fruits#food source fall#food source herbage#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#butterfly friendly#audubon#yellow fall color
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Castanea
    Species:
    pumila
    Family:
    Fagaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Wood used for fence posts, railway ties, and fuel
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central & E. U.S.A
    Distribution:
    AL , AR , DC , DE , FL , GA , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , MO , MS , NC , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , SC , TN , TX , VA , WV
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Larval host for butterflies. This plant is moderately resistant to damage from deer.  Its nuts are eaten by woodpeckers, bluejays, small mammals, wild turkeys, black bears, and white-tailed deer.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wildlife Larval Host
    Edibility:
    Nuts are edible
    Dimensions:
    Height: 15 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Nut
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is a spiny 1-1.5 inch bur that houses a single chestnut brown, shiny nut. Its fruits mature in autumn and winter.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Both male and female flowers on the same plant. Male flowers are borne in the leaf axils (the upper angle between a leaf stalk or branch and the stem or trunk from which it is growing), elongated, yellow to white, clustered, and have a strong odor. The female flowers are rounder with a diameter up to 1 inch. Blooms from May to July.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves of the Chinkapin are alternate, simple, short-stemmed, prominently veined, oblong with fine pointed teeth or bristles, 3 to 5 inches long and 1.5-2 inches wide. They are bright yellow-green n the top and silvery tomentose (covered with densely matted woolly hairs) on the lower surface.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Surface/Attachment:
    Furrowed
    Scaly
    Bark Description:
    The bark is light brown tinged with red, slightly furrowed and broken into loose plate-like scales.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Buds:
    Scaly
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Twigs are densely hairy (tomentose) when young, becoming shiny brown with densely reddish-hairy buds with 2-3 overlapping scales.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Naturalized Area
    Slope/Bank
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Edible Garden
    Design Feature:
    Small Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Heat
    Problems:
    Messy