Chinquapin Trees in Our Yard"
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Chinquapin Trees were once plentiful in the Arkansas and Missouri Ozarks producing a bountiful crop of delicious nuts. The wood was strong, decay resistant and often used for building materials, furniture and musical instruments.
Wayne MO: 1933
Sadly, during the 1950's, the Ozark Chinquapin Trees began dying. This devastation was caused by the Chestnut Blight first appearing in New York during the early 1900's. The Blight rapidly progressed westward and, ... in just 50-years, ... reached the Ozarks.
This was a sad time for my brothers, cousins and I. The roasted nuts were a special treat for us.
1946: With Grandparents Near Gateway AR
1946: Near Cassville MO
March 19, 2014; March 29, 2014; August 2, 2014
July 28, 2015; Chinquapin
In the Summer of the following year and only 20-yards down the hill from our back door was a mature Chinquapin Tree. It was like a Christmas present in July and now, … marked with a red ribbon, … we named this gift “Red”. The tree was about 25-feet tall, the trunk 4-inches in diameter and about 20-years old. The seed burrs were still green and would be 3-months before harvest. The steep hillside made it difficult to reach. Initially, a rope was used which enabled me to clean away the brush and trees to allow more growing room and sunlight. Also, a protector on the trunk was installed to keep the squirrels away from the nuts. Later, a zigzag trail was fixed down to the tree making access easier.
While awaiting the nuts to mature, a search was made on the hillside for more trees. First, some clear, identifying characteristics were necessary to distinguish the Chinquapin from other trees and shrubs. Two primary identifying features aside from the obvious blooms and fruit are used.
Chinquapin --- Maple; Several Hickory Tree Varieties
--- Chinquapin Oak; Chinquapin --- Elm, Chinquapin --- Chinquapin Oak
Most of the new trees were found near what appeared to be the decaying carcass of a huge Chinquapin Tree that died 50 to 60-years ago. This set of trees was located about 200-yards from our house. The search identified only one other tree with maturing Chinquapins. It was named “Gold” because of its value. This tree was located near the highway and appeared to be growing from an older stump.
Sept. 18, 2015 blight canker ; May 18, 2016
“Gold”, as well as one other tree, had damage to the bottom of the trunk consistent with Chinquapin Blight symptoms. The following year, both trees were dead.
October was time to harvest the crop. However, this was difficult since the burr opens and drops the nut while still attached to the tree limb. Waiting until the nut falls was not an option since squirrels will be the first to find them in the thick undergrowth. A long pole was used with a tin can attached on the end; the same pole used for picking apples and peaches. The tractor helped to harvest the nuts from “Gold”.
The harvest was not like old times but rewarding nonetheless. Several of the nuts were very small due to poor pollination since there were no co-located mature trees.
Sept. 29, 2015
In the Fall, our Chinquapin Trees have their own distinctive display of yellow and green, which make them easy to identify.
Nov.4, 2015; Oct. 15, 2015; April 23, 2008; Oct. 13, 2012; Feb. 9, 2014
July 28, 2015; Oct. 17, 2006; April 10, 2008; March 10, 2014
Another small tree is clearly evident near a large Hickory Tree. This small tree is probably 15-years old but its growth has been stunted because of the nearby tree. Like “Red”, there was no sign of a Chinquapin stump. We named this tree “Hope” because it was growing so slowly.
April 10, 2008
March 4, 2016; April 12, 2016; April 21, 2016
April 28, 2016; May 1, 2016; May 16, 2016; May 18, 2016 ;
The long bloom shafts displayed in early June are easily spotted on our Chinquapin Tree. Also, similar blooms were observed in a yard next to a busy street and on another tree only two miles from our home. While the blooms appear to be the same, the serrations on the leaves are not as deep as that of the Chinquapin. These large trees are Chinese Chestnut and have a larger seed burr and more compact spines than the Ozark Chinquapin.
On August 29 a severe rainstorm stripped most of the burrs from the tree and were found on the ground nearby. The few remaining burrs appeared to be lonely.
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