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Alleghany Chinquapin
Castanea pumila

Did you know that we (i.e. those in the mid-Atlantic) have our own native hazelnut? Or it’s kind of like a chestnut, but smaller. Anyway, which ever way you crack it, this shrub has been a delicacy for humans and wildlife alike for centuries.

The Chinquapin is mildly resistant to chestnut blight, which is a good thing. However because of deforestation and general land development, it is becoming more and more uncommon to find it in the wild.

It’s a lot of work to harvest the nuts, since they are in such a spiny burr, and they are quite small. However the taste is, as they say, a little sweet. The plants where I am don’t produce much, as they are small, and the shrubs are a mast fruiting plant, which means they have synchronous heavy fruiting at intervals greater than 1 year. Not only that, but you have the fight the squirrels, turkey, and deer for the nuts!

Size: Can reach 15-30 feet tall
Family: Fagaceae (Beech Family)
Habitat: Sandy, open, dry woods & thickets, acidic soil. Coastal, mountains and piedmont.
Identifiers: Alternate lanceolate leaves with serrate edges, 3 to 5 inches long and 1.5-2 inches wide. Multi-stemmed, thicket-forming shrub. Spiny green and eventually brown  1-1.5 inch bur in autumn and winter which contains a single chestnut brown, shiny nut.
All text and photos copyright © 2022 Middle Way Nature Reserve, unless noted.
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