chestnut oak also is known as basket oak or cow oak. This tree
is most abundant in the bottomlands of the Piedmont and Coastal
Plain. Although it is widely found on the best, well-drained,
loamy, first bottom ridges, it is found principally on well-drained,
silty clay and loamy terraces and on alluvial sites in the bottomlands
of both large and small streams.
Swamp chestnut oak leaves are roughly oval, 6 to 8 inches long;
3 to 5 inches wide. When new they usually are coated on the
underside with thick silvery white fuzz. Leaf margins are coarsely
The acorn is 1 to 1 1/2 inches long, ovoid and 1/3 -covered
by a thick cup that has rough, wedge-shaped scales. The bark
is a very light gray; on the upper stems and limbs of old trees,
it is broken into broad flakes or divided into strips.
The tree usually grows to 60 to 80 feet tall and to 2 to 3 feet
in diameter. The trunk often is free of branches for 50 to 60
feet. Stout branches grow upward at sharp angles to form a round-topped
Swamp chestnut oak wood is hard, tough, very strong and heavy.
Its other name, "basket oak," refers to the long, thin strips
of wood that are split from this tree and used to make baskets.
Swamp chestnut oak also is used for barrels, construction, flooring
and tools and as white oak lumber. Its tendency to both warp
and crack makes it very difficult to kiln-dry.