Swamp Chestnut Oak Tree

Height: Relatively small for an oak; up to 60 feet  

Evergreen/Deciduous: Deciduous

Lifespan: 100 to 200 years

Fall Foliage: Rich yellow to red, though not as attractive as some other oaks

Range: Most of the southeastern United States, excluding the Appalachian Mountains  

Typical Habitat: Low-lying areas, especially common near water; also widely planted as an ornamental tree in many locations

The Swamp Chestnut Oak Tree: A Muddled Taxonomic History

The swamp chestnut oak has gone through quite a bit of taxonomic upheaval over time, as it has been associated with a few different names. Most of the difficulty centers around the similarity this tree has to the chestnut oak (Quercus montana).  

In fact, some older resources don’t even distinguish between these two species and consider them geographic variants. However, most modern authorities do consider the two distinct, and possibly closely related, species.

Swamp Chestnut Oak Identification: Tips & Tricks

The swamp chestnut oak is easy to identify as an oak, but it can be tricky to distinguish from the chestnut oak.  

The acorns – when present – offer one of the easiest characteristics to consider. In the swamp chestnut oak, the acorn cap’s scales are readily visible, while they can be difficult to distinguish in the chestnut oak. Additionally, the chestnut oak has very distinctive, thick, furrowed bark, which the swamp chestnut oak lacks.

Additionally, swamp chestnut oak leaves are typically velvety underneath, while chestnut oak leaves only have sparse hairs below.

The Swamp Chestnut Oak: Additional Information

Need more information about the swamp chestnut oak? Check out these great resources to learn more:

  • North Carolina State Extension: A great resource that includes a quick-reference chart and several very high-quality photographs of the swamp chestnut oak.
  • Missouri Botanical Garden: A basic guide to the species, along with an assortment of species photos.
  • U.S. Forest Service: A comprehensive resource, covering everything from habitat, forest associates, and range to fire response and cultural notes.

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