Dwarf Chestnut Oak

Quercus prinoides
Fagaceae (oaks)

A shrub or small tree, usually growing in multistemmed clumps or thickets.

Leaves alternate, simple, leathery, 1½–4 inches long; margin wavy, widely toothed, with 4–8 teeth per side, a vein running to each tooth; upper surface green, shiny, smooth; lower surface much paler, velvety-hairy; turning red in autumn.

Bark brownish-gray, smooth, with horizontal pores; developing into flat, scaly, checkered ridges with shallow furrows.

Twigs reddish-brown and hairy, becoming gray and smooth.

Flowers April–May, in catkins.

Fruits September–October, acorns about 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, egg-shaped, dark reddish-brown; cap enclosing 1/3 of the acorn, grayish-brown, scales small, warty, densely hairy; nut sweet, edible, maturing the first season.

Similar species: Leaves are similar to those of chinkapin oak, but dwarf chestnut oak's are smaller (less than 4 inches long), with usually no more than 8 teeth per side and usually blunter teeth.

Height: to 15 feet, but usually only 3–10 feet.
Habitat and conservation: 
Occurs in dry soils in open woods, on glades, on prairies, along bluffs and in thickets. This species can sometimes be difficult to manage in prairies, having a tendency to form thickets. Periodic burning (a natural process) or haying helps to keep it and other woody plants from dominating prairies.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Usually found in prairies and open areas of north Missouri; can be planted statewide.
Also called dwarf chinkapin oak or scrub oak.
Human connections: 
The dwarf nature of this oak makes it an interesting planting for borders.
Ecosystem connections: 
The acorns are eaten by several birds and mammals. Any shrub that forms thickets can provide home—or merely needed shelter—for a wide variety of animals.
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