Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Chestnut Oak

One very common tree on the Shawangunk Ridge where I frequently hike is the chestnut oak (Quercus prinus).  So named because the leaves resemble the chestnut tree more than a traditional oak tree leaf.  Chestnut (Castanea dentata) leaves, however, are more saw-toothed and you obviously won't see acorns on a chestnut tree.  It's also sometimes called a rock oak due to its appearance on rocky ridge tops in the Northeast (which is why it's common in the Shawangunks).

Full-grown, the acorns are some of the largest of all the oaks.  When they drop, they provide food for lots of woodland wildlife including squirrels, chipmunks, mice, turkeys, and even deer.  Just from casual observation in the woods this summer, the acorn crop seems pretty heavy this year.

Chestnut oaks are one of the easier trees to learn how to identify.

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