The dwarf chinkapin oak (Quercus prinoides) is also known as scrub chestnut oak, a small shrub that grows 2 to 10 feet (maximum 18 feet), with a trunk diameter of 1 to 4 inches (maximum 10 feet). It is sometimes thought of as a “weed tree,” but it may be useful to bind soil along roadsides and rocky slopes.
Habitat: Found on dry ridges and rocky bluffs
Hardiness: Varies with the species of oak tree, ranging from zone 3 to zone 9
Growth Rate: Slow to Moderate
Mature Shape: Broad, rounded
Height: Varies with species. Often maturing between 50 to 75 feet tall. Capable of growing upwards of 100 feet.
Width: 40 to 70 feet; varies with species
Site Requirements: Best growth in moist, well-drained soils. Adaptable to adverse soil conditions.
Flowering Dates: Spring
Seed Dispersal Dates: Fall
Seed Bearing Age: 3-5 years
Seed Bearing Frequency: Yearly
Seed Stratification: No stratification period is needed.
The leaves are small, 2 to 5 inches, 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches wide, sharp toothed, 3 to 7 pairs of teeth along the margin, obovate outline, dark yellow-green on the top and paler with gray downy hair beneath.
The twigs and bids resemble swamp oak, but smaller, and a light orange-brown to red-brown color. The acorn cup is 3/8 to 7/8 inches across, tight scaled, and oval shaped – it produces copious amounts of sweet-kernel acorn which is a valuable source of calories for wildlife. The bark is thin, light brown, and scaly.
It can be found in dry rocky or sandy soils along roadsides, hillside pastures, and barren slopes. The range extends from Maine to Nebraska and south to North Carolina and Texas.