Content Detail

Chestnut oak is native to the far southern edge of Illinois but is hardy in the northern part of the state. Fall color varies from red to orange to yellow-brown. Also known as Quercus prinus.

  • Family (English) Beech
  • Family (botanic) Fagaceae
  • Planting site City parkway, Residential and parks, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Illinois, North America
  • Size range Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Mature height 60-70 feet
  • Mature width 60-70 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Round
  • Growth rate Moderate, Slow
  • Transplants well No
  • Planting considerations Messy fruit/plant parts
  • Wildlife Cavity-nesting birds, Mammals, Migrant birds
  • Has cultivars No

Bark color and texture:

Very dark, deeply ridged and furrowed bark at maturity. Ridges are distinctly V-shaped (wider at the base of the ridge than at the top).

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Simple, alternate, obovate leaves with coarsely serrated margins that are 4 to 6 inches long. Medium green color on the upper leaf surface and whitish on the lower surface.  Fall color varies from red to orange to yellow-brown.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Male flowers appear in dangling catkins, while the female flowers are smaller and held close to the stem. Not ornamentally important.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

The chestnut oak has acorns which are 1 to 1 1/4 inches long and topped with a bumpy cap that covers 1/3 to 1/2 of the nut.

Plant Care:

A deep taproot makes this tree difficult to transplant. Prune oaks in the dormant season to avoid attracting beetles that may carry oak wilt. Can tolerate most soils except those that drain poorly. Often found on very poor, dry soils. Native from the southern tip of Illinois, eastward into Appalachia.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Oak wilt is a potential disease problem. Insect pests include scale insects and two-lined chestnut borer. Galls caused by mites or insects are common, but not harmful.


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