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Swamp Chestnut Oak

Swamp Chestnut Oak

The Swamp Chestnut Oak (Quercus michauxii) is a species of oak in the white oak section Quercus section Quercus, native to bottomlands and wetlands in the southern and central United States, from New Jersey south to northern Florida, and west to Missouri and eastern Texas; it is rare north of the Ohio River.

The Swamp Chestnut Oak closely resembles the Chestnut oak Quercus prinus, and for that reason has sometimes been treated as a variety of that species. However, the Swamp Chestnut Oak is a larger tree which differs in preferred habitat, and the bark does not have the distinctive deep, rugged ridging of the Chestnut Oak, being thinner, scaly, and paler gray. It typically grows to around 20 m tall, though the tallest specimen currently known is 40m tall.

The leaves are simple, 10-28 cm long and 5-18 cm broad, with 15-20 lobe-like, rounded simple teeth on each side, similar to Chestnut Oak and Chinkapin Oak Quercus muehlenbergii, although they generally do not achieve the more slender form that those trees may exhibit at times. The fruit is an acorn 2.5-3.5 cm long and 2-2.5 cm broad, borne on a 2-3 cm peduncle; it is mature in the fall, about 6 months after pollination.

The Swamp Chestnut Oak is also called "Cow Oak" because of its large, relatively sweet (for an oak) acorns, which are readily eaten by livestock. However, these trees will only bear heavy crops at intervals of several years. It is also called "Basket Oak" because of its high-quality wood, which can be sliced into flexible strips suitable for basket weaving. The wood is similar to, and usually marketed mixed with, other white oaks.

It is sometimes cultivated as a large garden tree, and is quite easy to grow if it is not subject to extreme urban conditions.

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