The summer months are great, but they can be hot. Being outdoors in the summer months is preferred, but when it gets too hot, it can be difficult to sit outside. Shade trees can really relieve the heat of outdoors. Temperatures underneath the shade of trees can be 10-15 degrees cooler or more, according to the University of Florida. A great tree species to provide shade is an Oak, Chinkapin Oak is a good white oak to plant in your landscape.
Chinkapin Oak, Quercus muehlenbergii, is a white oak. The trees grow up to 40-60 feet tall and 40-50 feet wide. The leaves are not the typical oak leaf with deep lobes. The leaves are 4-8 inches long, oblong in shape with broad serrations along the margin. The leaves resemble leaves of a chestnut tree, which is sometimes referred to as chinkapin and that is where the name for this oak comes from. The acorns are ¾ inches long and have a scaly cap that covers about half of the acorn. Chinkapin oaks have a nice yellow fall color.
There is also a dwarf Chinkapin oak, which is actually a different species of oak tree, not just a different variety like one would expect. Dwarf Chinkapin oak is Quercus prinoides and it grows only 2-10 feet tall with a maximum height of 18 feet. It is useful for a tree to place in smaller growing zones with not as much height clearance as many other trees. The leaf is very similar to that of Chinkapin oaks.
Chinkapin oak is adaptable to many growing conditions but it grows best in moist, well-drained soils. It can be planted from seed and doesn’t need the seed to be stratified to grow. Stratification is a cool period some seeds need to go through before the seed will germinate. Oaks don’t transplant well, and Chinkapin is no exception to this. It would be best to start from a seed or transplant when young.
There are not a lot of problems with Chinkapin oak. They are even said to have a resistance to oak wilt, according to North Carolina State University Extension. Oak wilt is a deadly disease that oaks can get if pruned during the summer months. The disease is spread by a beetle that is attracted to the tree after it has been pruned.
Acorns produced by all oaks are scavenged by many wildlife species including deer, squirrels, racoon, and mice. It is a tree that rabbits may gnaw on the bark of during the winter months, especially. Be sure to keep a fence around the tree when it is young to keep rabbits away if you are in a location with a large rabbit population or have troubles with rabbit damage. The fence should be larger if you have a problem with deer damage to young branches or rubbing antlers on the trunk.
Chinkapin oak is a great choice for any landscape, as is the case with most any type of oak tree. However, if you are looking for something for under power lines or other small area, you may look to the dwarf chinkapin oak. These trees will provide great shade to your landscape and may even bring some scavenging wildlife around for the acorns. So the next time you are looking for a new tree, consider Chinkapin Oak.