Natural Highlights: Swamp Chestnut Oak

The Swamp Chestnut Oak (Quercus michauxii) is one of several native tree species we'll be planting at our annual treeplanting event on Mar. 10th.

Though it can be hard to find at plant nurseries, but the Swamp Chestnut Oak is worth the search because it grows into a majestic, beautiful tree with good fall color.  Also called the "cow oak" because livestock found the large acorns very tasty in days past, and the "basket oak" because it's wood can be split into long, flexible strips for weaving baskets, this tree can grow to 100 feet tall. It is recommended to land managers interested in creating good deer habitat because its acorns provide excellent mast for whitetail deer, and they are also eaten by bears, foxes, turkeys, squirrels and other species.  

Oaks in general provide more benefits to more kinds of wildlife than any other genus of North American trees, according to research by Dr. Doug Tallamy and others. Over 100 vertebrate species eat acorns, and others utilize oaks for browse or shelter.  Myriad invertebrates find shelter and food in the leaves, trunk, branches and roots of oak trees, including the larvae of many butterfly species. The Swamp Chestnut Oak is a larval host plant for the White M Hairstreak, the Northern Hairstreak and Horace's Duskwing Butterfly.  This rich invertebrate assemblage in turn provides food for birds, bats, amphibians, and many other creatures.

The Swamp Chestnut Oak is in the white oak group within the genus Quercus, along with White, Chinkapin, Post and Overcup Oaks, and its leaves resemble those of chestnut trees. It prefers moist, bottomland soils and its seedlings grow best in abundant sunlight.  For more information on Swamp Chestnut Oaks please use the links below.

Swamp Chestnut Oak (Native Plant Database, LBJWC)

Swamp Chestnut Oak Fact Sheet (USDA)

The Value of Oaks to Wildlife (University of Florida)

Know Your Deer Plants (QDMA)


Posted by Cathy Justis at 8:44 AM