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Chinquapin (Castanea pumila) is a small tree or shrub native to the Southeastern US, that is closely related to the chestnut. It makes small sweet nuts that are said to taste like the American chestnuts, which were wiped out by Asian chestnut blight. These are considered native to FL, but they grow differently than the locals. These plants can form a tree and produce a lot of nuts, whereas the locals rarely exceed three feet in height and are poor producers. The locals variety was once considered a separate specie, called C. Alnifolia.

Soil: Accepts a wide variety of soils. It is usually found in well drained sandy soils of North Florida. It is much more common in the slightly richer soils north of Gainesville (around Alachua and High Springs), as a remnant of a nearly extinct community called “Upland Pine Forest”. Some of our poorest sandy soils, where “Sandhill” communities exist, usually lack chinquapins, possibly because of the poor soil. (Areas like Archer, Ocala, Keystone, Hawthorne, Interlachen). I expect you can still grow chinquapins in sandhill type soils, but it might benefit from a little assistance, such as water and soil improvement.
Water: drought tolerant.

Full sun to part shade.
Cold: tolerates cold.
Pruning: The source of our seeds recommends pruning the tree to a single stem.
Propagation: Seed.

Susceptible to Phytophthora root rot, and may have some sensitivity to Chestnut Blight. They are also favored by deer.
Other problems: The nuts are small. Trees are gendered. Female trees produce fruit and males are needed for pollination. We will not know the genders of our trees until they are old enough to flower.

Harvesting, storage, and preparation: The nuts should fall out of the burrs when they become ripe. Roast them like chestnuts.

Additional references:



Photo by Joe Schibig
More photos on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/search/?q=Castanea%20pumila

6 comments to Chinquapin

  • John Knouse

    I would like to find seed of C. pumila. Do you know of a source?

  • We have two. Only one flowered this year (they are still young), and it set some fruit but not that much. The nuts are very small compared to chestnuts.

  • Michael

    Our chinquapins all died of a mysterious malady, possibly our soil was not sufficiently acidic. The few survivors were sent off to live with Dan, to see if they can grow into trees and make nuts. I met someone at the Folk Fest who said they were going to send us more seeds. I hope they remember.

  • cami

    Just found a bunch of these nuts in Finger Lakes state park, missouri. Didn't know they grew this far north. Seem to be abundent.

  • I have one bush which came from Mills River, North Carolina. The bush is 8 years old and has nuts on it this year for the first time. Obviously their must be a male bush/tree in the nearby woods or my bush would not have produced nuts.
    I would be glad to save nuts for anyone wishing to grow their own chinquapin.

  • John Knox

    I live in south Ga. in the 50’s and 60 we had what we called “Chinqapin” groeing wild in the woods everywhere, they grew low to the ground 15′ 18″ My question – where can I find that strand? Thanks John K.

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