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Home > Resources > North Carolina Trees > Chinkapin


(Castanea pumila Mill)

  Chinkapin usually grows on rich in organic matter. It can be found from sand ridges and swamp margins of the coast to 4500 feet elevations in the mountains. Although it is a member of the same family as the American chestnut, Chinkapin is highly resistant to the blight that destroyed the great stands of American chestnut.

Chinkapin leaves are 3 to 5 inches long and 11/2 to 2 inches wide. They are bright yellow-green on the upper surface and silvery on the lower surface. The fruit is a small burr, 1 to 11/2 inches in diameter, containing a single, dark chestnut-brown, shiny kernel that is sweet and edible.

The bark is 1/2 to 1 inch thick, light brown tinged with red. It is slightly furrowed and broken on the surface into loose, plate-like scales.

Chinkapin trees usually are small. They grow sometimes 15 to 30 feet in height with a trunk diameter of up to 1 1/2 feet. The wood is light, hard, strong, coarse-grained and dark brown. It is used for fence posts, rails and railway ties. The sweet nuts are a valuable source of food for a wide variety of wildlife.
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