Allegheny Chinkapin
Castanea pumila Mill.

Allegheny Chinkapin: Full Size

Mature Size: 15 to 30 feet in height and 1 foot in diameter.

Form: Large shrub or small tree, often forming thickets.

Habitat: Understory in upland hardwood forests, most common on drier soils.


Alternate, simple, 3 to 6 inches long and 1½ to 2 inches wide, oblong to lance-shaped, with coarsely toothed edge; bright yellow-green on the upper surface, pale green and slightly fuzzy on the lower surface.


Males small and pale yellow, on semi-upright catkins 4 to 6 inches long; females 1/8 inch long, at the base of some catkins; flowers have an unpleasant odor.


Prickly burr, 1 to 1½ inches across, containing a shiny, dark brown, sweet nut.


Light brown tinged with red, slightly furrowed and broken into loose, plate-like scales.


Slender to moderate, reddish brown, often with gray fuzz; buds gray-brown and fuzzy, with 2 to 3 visible bud scales.

Values and Uses

The wood is light, hard, strong, coarse-grained and dark brown. It is seldom harvested, but has occasionally been used for fence posts and railway ties. The sweet nuts are eaten by humans, as well as a wide variety of wildlife, including woodpeckers, squirrels, jays and chipmunks.

Did You Know?

The Cherokee people used dried chinkapin leaves to treat headaches and fevers.