Common Chinkapin - Allegheny Chinkapin
Castanea pumila
Fagaceae (Beech) Family

Plant is a shrub-forming thicket or tree with rounded crown, bearing very spiny burs. Height is usualy about 40 feet with a trunk diameter of no more than 1 foot.

The leaves are 3-6 inches long, about 2 inches wide, oblong or elliptical, short-pointed; woith many straight parallel wide veins. Each vein ends in a short tooth. The leafstalks are hairy. Color is yellow-green above with velvety white hairs beneath.

The flowers are borne in early summer; many tiny whitish male flowers in upright catkins that measure 4-6 inches long at the base of new leaf growth. Female flowers are few and the can usually be distinguished as they are considerably shorter than the male flowers.

Fruit is a nutlet enclosed in a spiny bur. The fruit matures in autumn and splitting open.

Captain John Smith published the first record of this nut in 1612: "They (referring to the Indians) have a small fruit growing on little trees, husked like a chestnut, but the fruit most like a very small acorne. This they call Checkinquamins, which they esteem a great daintie."

     

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