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Castanea pumila

Common Name(s):
Native Plants, Shrubs, Trees

Castanea pumila, commonly called chinkapin, is a monoecious small tree or large shrub that grows to be 2 to 5 m tall. The twigs are densely hairy (tomentose) when young, becoming shiny brown with densely reddish-hairy buds.

Chinkapin nuts are palatable to humans as well as wildlife. They have a sweet flavor and are often preferred over the fruit of the American chestnut.

Its wood is light, hard, closegrained, and strong. It is used for fence posts and fuel although it is not timbered because of its small stature and scattered occurrence.

Regions:  Mountan, Piedmont, Coastal Plains

Seasons of Interest: 

   Blooms:  Summer              Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Fall

Wildlife Value:   This plant is monderately resistant to damage from deer.  Its nuts are eaten by woodpeckers, bluejays, small mammals, wild turkeys, black bears and white-tailed deer.

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.

20-25 ft.
The Chinkapins 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. The fruit is a spiny bur that houses a single nut. Male flowers appear in May and June, female flowers later in the season. Its fruits mature in autumn and winter.
The Chinkapin grows in very dry to dry sites on dry, rocky, sandy, or loamy soils. It ranges in elevation from sea level to about 4,455 feet. It grows in open areas and is tolerant of high heat. It is not tolerant of coastal salt spray or shade.
Sun; prefers moist well drained soil
Slender spikes of strong scented staminate flowers; bur with a single, dark brown sweet nut
6-20 ft.
Growth Rate:
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 tomentose (covered with densely matted woolly hairs) on the lower surface.
birds, deciduous, ornamental tree, deer resistant, nuts

NCCES plant id: 451

Castanea pumila Castanea pumila
Margrit, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0
Castanea pumila habit
John Scrivani, CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0
Castanea pumila leaves & flowers
John Scrivani, CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0
Castanea pumila nuts
Rowena, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0