Audubon® Chinkapin Oak
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Although Chinkapin Oak is not well known among people, it is beloved among birds. Its acorns—highly nutritious and palatable even by human standards—nourish many avian species, helping them build up reserves for carrying out their fall migration or for surviving the winter in place. Jays, woodpeckers, flickers, and many others feast on the sweet morsels. Songbirds, too, appreciate Chinkapin Oak for the small insects they find feeding on the leaves. Finches, sparrows, cardinals, and titmice are grateful visitors in the Lower Midwest, where this handsome native reigns supreme. A true friend to wildlife wherever it is grown.
May Benefit & Attract: Jays, woodpeckers, flickers, finches, sparrows, cardinals, and titmice
Take Birds Under Your Wing
New! Introducing our bird-friendly collection of Audubon® Native Plants & Trees
- Better for Birds, 100% Neonic-Free
- Not Available in non-native regions, states or counties (see Native Regions map)
Bower & Branch is proud to grow Audubon® Native Plants for Birds in partnership with the National Audubon Society to help birds and other wildlife thrive.
- The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow
- This bird-friendly native plant provides food and shelter for local and migrating birds and other wildlife
- Your purchase and planting of this native flora directly supports Audubon’s conservation mission and impact
- Learn how you can help birds in your home and community through Audubon’s Plants for Birds program
- Audubon Native Plants & Trees are free of neonicotinoids and exclusively grown by Bower & Branch
Audubon® is a licensed and registered trademark of the National Audubon Society. All rights reserved.
Size AA (2-3' tall) container grown
Size C (10-12' tall) container grown
- Hardiness Zone: 5-7
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Although Chinkapin Oak is rarely planted, it’s not because it’s some new, exotic discovery. Chinkapin Oak is native to the U.S., from Wisconsin to Vermont and south to New Mexico and South Carolina. Its range also extends into Mexico. Nowhere is it a dominant tree, but it is most plentiful near the center of its range—along the Ohio River, in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. In years past, its wood was used in those states to build fences, and later to fuel the steamships that traveled up and down the Ohio River.
Blue jay buffet! Chinkapin Oak acorns are possibly the sweetest-tasting of all acorns, and they’re a hit with blue jays, squirrels, chipmunks, and all sorts of wildlife. They’re edible for humans, too, if you want to give your trail mix a twist (you can roast them first or eat them raw). This species is one of the most precocious Oaks (producing its first acorns at a young age), so you won’t have to wait forever to start getting those sweet snacks.
How to Grow
Plant Chinkapin Oak in a site where it will receive all-day sun. Clay soil is no problem. Alkaline (high pH) soil is also acceptable, which is unusual for Oaks. Many Oaks, particularly the popular Pin Oak, will turn chlorotic (yellow) on alkaline soils, but Chinkapin Oak often grows on those types of soils in the wild and is perfectly adapted to them. Little pruning will be necessary, but if you must prune, do so only between December and February. The fungal disease Oak Wilt can strike when Oaks are pruned during active growth. A member of the White Oak Group, Chinkapin Oak is less susceptible to Oak Wilt than members of the Red Oak Group, but it is still vulnerable.
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