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The American chestnut oak

14 October 2021

The American chestnut oak (Quercus montana), commonly called Rock chesnut oak in English, is a tree of the Fagaceae family whose natural range extends from the center to the northeast of the United States of America, the Appalachian Mountains constituting its southern limit: Alabama, North and South Carolina, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania , Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.


Originally named Quercus prinus by botanist Carl von Linné, this oak was eventually split into two distinct species: Quercus michauxii and Quercu montana. It was introduced to Europe in 1688. The chestnut oak owes its name to its leaves which are very similar to those of the chestnut tree.


Use of American chestnut oak

The wood of American chestnut oak (hard and very durable in contact with the ground) is used for industry, railway ties and cabinetry. Its bark, rich in tannin, was once widely used and its acorns, because of their softness, are consumable.


Special features of American chestnut oak

The American chestnut oak is found on dry hills and high rocks on shallow, sandy, dry, rocky and gravelly soils up to 1400 meters of elevation. It also supports high pH and saline clays in culture. A deciduous tree, the American chestnut oak can reach heights of 15 to 30 meters. The largest specimens have trunks up to 2.2 meters in diameter.


The leaves of the American chestnut oak, 10 to 22 cm long by 6 to 12 cm wide, have regularly serrated or coarsely sinuous edges. Its acorns, 1.5 to 3 cm long by 1 to 2.5 cm wide, are ovoid or ellipsoid in shape and housed in cups, 0.9 to 1.5 cm high by 1.8 to 2, 5 cm wide, covering half of the tassel. The cups are formed of gray scales with reddish points often arranged in concentric or transverse rows.


Visuals © D.R.

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