Ozark Chinquapin...an important tree to plant in the ozarks!!!
You may be interested in planting back some seeds/seedlings of this amazing tree.
Here are some quotes about the tree on the Ozark Chinquapin Foundations website.
A 25 dollar donation to the foundation will get you 3-5 seednuts to plant from trees showing blight resistance
"The Ozark Chinquapin nuts were delicious and we waited for them to fall like you would wait on a crop of corn to ripen,….. they were that important. Up on the hilltop the nuts were so plentiful that we scooped them up with flat blade shovels and loaded them into the wagons to be used as livestock feed, to eat for ourselves, and to sell. Deer, bears, turkeys, squirrels, and a variety of other wildlife fattened up on the sweet crop of nuts that fell every year. But, starting in the 1950’s and 60’ all of the trees started dying off. Now they are all gone and no one has heard of them."
Quote from an 91-year old Missouri outdoorsman describing the trees before the chestnut blight reached the Ozark Mountains.
The Ozark Chinquapin (Castanea ozarkensis), sometimes called Ozark Chinkapin or Ozark Chestnut, was drought tolerant, grew to heights of 65 feet, 2-3 feet diameter, and grew on acidic dry rocky soils on hilltops and slopes. It bloomed in late May- early June after the threat of frost.
The trees produced a bounty of sweet nuts every year without fail, and was sought as a nutritious food source by humans and wildlife. The wood was highly prized because it was rot resistant and made excellent railroad ties and fence post.
Now the trees are gone.
Logging practices and later the chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica) wiped out the Ozark Chinquapin. Today only blighted stumps remain of this once important Ozark tree. Sprouts emerge from the stumps, many managing to produce some nuts, but within 4-6 years the blight again strikes killing the sprouts, starting the blighted cycle all over again. The number of surviving stumps and the historic range of the tree continue to shrink."
Last edited by letemgrow; 04-02-2011 at 04:55 PM.
"The trees bloom in late May or early June after the threat of frost. Because of this they consistently produce nuts each year. In the Ozarks, historic accounts indicate that almost pure stands of Ozark Chinquapin sometimes existed. With full sun and ideal conditions Ozark Chinquapin trees will produce nuts in four years The nuts are so nutritious and sought after by wildlife that they are preferred over white oak acorns."
"Trees will usually develop the blight after 5-6 years. Unlike the American chestnut tree the Ozark Chinquapin is more resistant to the blight and will live for another five to six years with the blight. They will also continue to produce nuts even though they are blighted."
"The traditional range of the Ozark Chinquapin was larger than it is today. The trees grew in non-swelling clays on hill sides and tops in the same habitat as the short leaf pine/oak/hickory forest. Wildlife populations today like yesterday are linked to the yearly mast crop, primarily red oaks, white oaks, hickories, and black walnut. From historic accounts evidence seems to indicate that in the Ozarks an abundance of wildlife occurred that we have not seen since.
The Ozark forests have changed a lot from pre-settlement days. It had more diverse habitat than the Ozarks of today. A mosaic mixture of tall grass prairie and forest where fire played an important role existed.
In 1819 Henry Rowe Schoolcraft made a journey through the Ozark Mountains of what is today Missouri and Arkansas, the historic range of the Ozark Chinquapin. His accounts describe the abundance of wildlife he encountered. He was fascinated by the incredible numbers of black bear, buffalo, wild turkeys, elk, squirrels, and deer he daily encountered.
In the Ozarks today there is a boom/bust cycle of mast crop. In years when the white oaks and red oaks produce a bounty of nuts wildlife benefits. The year following a large mast crop there is a large squirrel population. Large squirrel migrations have historically been documented in the Ozarks. Today these migrations still occur but at populations far below what we historically had. More food means more squirrels, larger litters, and more litters are born. Rodent populations such as mice, shrews, voles, and chipmunks also explode because of the huge mast crop. Predators such as red foxes, gray foxes, bobcats, and coyotes also have larger litters in response to the increase of food."
This is where the chinquapin could really play a roll, they produce good crops EVERY year unlike oaks and the nuts taste like corn pops to boot!!!
As soon as I get 15 posts, I can post some pictures of this grand tree.
"I can remember the Chinquapins years ago. I haven’t seen one in 30 years. I logged in my younger years and we cut a many of them down for posts. They made great posts for the fences. The land was being cleared off by the acres and fences being built. The trees of this area are nothing like they were when I was young. Most all the great big trees are gone and these old hills are bare compared to what they used to be. I am afraid for the future generations who will not have the great resources that we used to have. The logging companies and landowners are cutting down way to many trees and replanting next to none. We need to teach the younger generations to conserve and plant more trees."
"My Grandma use to have two great big Ozark Chinquapin trees in her front yard and we would fill our pockets full of them on weekends and then go to school on Mondays and eat on them all day long and pass some of them to friends to eat. They was so thick on the ground they would just cover it. We would also climb around in the trees."
66 year old Missourian
This story was related to my Dads cousin Glen Burford who is 86 years old this year. Mr. Burford grew up in the small community of Welcome Arkansas located in the South Western corner of Arkansas in Columbia County. His house was only about a mile from the Louisiana State line and surrounded by woods on all sides. Growing up in the 1920's and 1930's Mr. Burford remembers well when the forests of South Arkansas were full of Chinquapin trees. In the area around their home place where his family hunted there were hundreds of Chinquapin trees scattered throughout the woods. He said some of these trees were quite large and had huge crops of nuts every fall. One of his favorite pastime was squirrel hunting. Glen said all you had to do to find the squirrels was go to the Chinquapin trees and they would be working alive with the furry little animals. He and his friends got many a dinner from the squirrels he shot out of those Chinquapin trees. Another thing he remembers about the Chinquapins is that there were several on the road that they walked to school on. When the nuts were ripe in the fall they would shake the trees and pick up a pocket full to take to school to snack on during the day. He also remembers how bad the burs would hurt if you stepped on one with your bare feet. Stories like his are pretty much the same throughout the state with people that lived in his era.
Mr. Burford said in the late 40's and 50's all of the trees started dying out because of some kind of blight. He was not familiar with the story of the Chestnut blight that swept the eastern US and killed the American Chestnuts. I told him that same blight was the cause of the Chinquapins disappearing. The sad part is that hardly anyone under 60 years old even knows what a Chinquapin tree is. I hope that people like us can change that and restore one day the Chinquapin to the forest of the south.
"I have been growing Chinquapin trees for the last 11 years and at first I thought the C. pumilia was the only Chinquapin that grew here in S.W. Arkansas. However now I believe that maybe the Ozark Chinquapin may have once ranged this far south."
"I remember the trees when I was a kid growing up in Oklahoma. I used to walk in the woods with bare feet, my skin was tougher then. But I'd step on those burrs and boy it would hurt. They are the sweetest nut you ever did want to eat.
I remember a tree back in 1963 that was just loaded with them chinquapins. They grew on a hillside, down a gully, on the bank of a creek, they just grew all over the place but not real abundant. In Oklahoma the biggest ones I saw were 7-9 inches in diameter.
I would love to see another chinquapin before I die but I don't think I ever will
Important Tips for Growing Ozark Chinquapin
Unlike most trees the Ozark Chinquapin put down a taproot in the fall of the year similar to what a white oak acorn does in the fall. Because of this seed collected in the fall of the year and planted the following spring often will not germinate. You can simulate conditions in the outdoors by placing the seed in a sealable plastic bag and add moistened peat moss (damp not wet) and place it in your refrigerator's crisper. The seed will eventually sprout a root in 2-4 months depending upon temperature (ideal temperature is between 34-42 degrees F). This method assures good seedling development. Blow air into the bag twice a week to prevent mold.
Plant the germinated nut directly in the ground (most successful approach) as soon as the threat of frost has passed. The week before you plan to plant your germinated nuts, remove them from the crisper and leave the bag with germinated nuts at room temperature for approximately one week. This will allow the seedling to emerge to a length of at least 2 inches. It is critical to the survival of your tree when planting your seedlings to make sure the taproot is not in any way damaged. If it is damaged the tree will produce a shallow root system and will die when dry late summer conditions occur.
Select a planting location that is full sun and has good drainage. Rocky dry poor soil that has a slope is an ideal location. However, the trees can grow in a variety of locations as long as there is good drainage for the root system and sun. The roots cannot tolerate any standing water.
Squirrels, mice, chipmunks, and a host of other animals will attempt to pull the still attached nut from the plant if they can get to it. This will eventually cause the plant to die. For this reason a grow tube (Tubex tree shelter 4') is highly recommended. The grow tube will accelerate tree growth, serve as a scent barrier, and protect it from browsing deer as well.
Under good conditions your tree will start to produce nuts in 4-6 years. Ozark Chinquapins are not self-pollinating and will need another tree to pollinate with.
Properly done mudpacks can prevent a infected tree from dying of the blight. Very rarely in nature does a disease like the chestnut blight kill 100% of a population.
"This is currently the largest Ozark chinquapin reported by the Ozark Chinquapin
Foundation. It exceeds 60 feet in height and is on Jay Bowsher's property.
(photo from Robert Barnes)"
Couple more pics of the leaves, burs in case anyone comes across them.
#1 The former Arkansas national champion Ozark Chinquapin tree in 1993 before the tornado blew it over. Resistance to the chestnut blight allowed it to grow to this size.
head down hwy 65 to damascus ar,,at my wifes grandmas house where we used to live there is one larger than the record tree in the front yard,, I threatened to cut that tree a hundred times after the shell opened up you could not keep them little needles from getting in the house
Have you given that information the the Ozark Chinquapin Foundation? They may want to collect some pollen for their breeding program cause a tree that big must be something special when it comes to the blight.
Originally Posted by monsterman
My FIL told me last year that we have one at our cabin in Ozark Co, MO. I had hoped to get some some pics of the leaves and nuts last summer, but a tornado came through and I'm not sure where it is or if I can even still get to it. When we cleaned up he showed me which tree he thought it was, but all the leaves and limbs were stripped off of it at the time. I'll check it out this summer hopefully.