Swamp Chestnut Oak

November 2nd, 2020

Quercus michauxii

The swamp chestnut oak is found throughout the southeastern United States.

physical description

This species is a deciduous species growing to 80 to 100 feet tall and 40 to 60 feet in diameter. It is a member of the white oaks and is in the same family as chestnuts and beeches, the Fagaceae. The leaves are rather large and simple with teeth along the margin ending in a “spine.” This species provides dense shade and good red fall color.


This species is found in hardiness zones 5 through 9 and, therefore, in Chattanooga (zone 7), it will do quite well. It is usually found within 150 miles of the southeastern and Gulf coasts except for southern Florida. It requires moist, well-drained soils. It can tolerate poor drainage but is intolerant of drought conditions.

The swamp chestnut oak is naturally found in bottomland hardwood forests and wetland areas, but it cannot tolerate wet soils.


This species provides plenty of shade in a large yard. It is a remarkable tree and, because of the prolific number of acorns, attracts many herbivores.

interesting information

Mature swamp chestnut oaks are allelopathic (exude plant growth inhibitors) and have the ability to hinder growth of nearby understory vegetation.

This species’ leaves are thought to look quite like those of an American chestnut (Castanea dentata), thus, it’s common name.

Swamp chestnut oak is shade intolerant and requires a lot of sunlight for establishment.

This tree requires full sun and will not tolerate anything less for long.

Swamp chestnut oak acorns are eaten by white-tailed deer, black bears, turkeys, red foxes, wild hogs, waterfowl, and squirrels; however, they are very bitter to humans.

The specific epithet honors French naturalist Francois Andre Michaux (1770-1855).

Swamp chestnut oaks are grown and available in the nursery of the Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center.

Charlie is a retired professor and Biological Oceanographer. He taught five courses in the University of Georgia System for many years from his home base in Savannah, Georgia.  

Charlie loves hiking at Reflection Riding, teaching children about the ecology of the area, and interacting with the Reflection Riding staff. They are GREAT!

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Posted by Charlie Belin  | Category: native plants
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