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Home > Resources > North Carolina Trees > Chestnut Oak

Chestnut Oak

(Quercus prinus L)


Chestnut oak acquired its name from its leaf, which resembles the chestnut leaf Its ability to grow on rocky mountain ridges also has given it the name of rock oak or mountain oak., Although it is common throughout the mountains on dry, rocky soils, it grows best in well-drained coves and bottomlands.

Chestnut oak leaves are 4 to 8 inches long. They are roughly oval but often are wider near the apex and are roughly round-toothed. Undersides of leaves often are hairy.

The shiny acorn is oval and 1 to 11/2 inches long. The cup is thin and covered with fused scales.

The bark is dark reddish-brown, thick and deeply divided into broad, rounded ridges.

The tree averages from 50 to 70 feet tall, with diameters between 2 and 3 feet. Like most white oaks, chestnut oak grows slowly on almost all sites. Chestnut oak tends to form pure, open stands on the poorer sites of hillsides and mountain slopes but usually is mixed with other species such as hickories, other oaks and pitch pine (or shortleaf pine on better sites).

The wood is generally similar to that of the other upland white oaks: heavy, hard, strong and resistant to decay. It is used extensively for railroad crossties, heavy timber for bridges, and other rough construction.

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