chestnut oak
  Jan 27, 2004 19:41 PST 

Has any work been done to determine how long chestnut oak lives or how large
its' maximum size is.

In western Massachusetts and southern Vermont where I first encountered CO is
was mostly a crooked, scrubby tree on very poor sites.

In central West Virginia, left over old growth chestnut oak is a regular
component in many private woodlands with individuals between 9' and 12' CBH not

The tree was never favored for timber so it is often the largest (diameter)
individual tree species encountered on private woodlands. Because it grows
exceptionally slow, trees as small as 24" in diameter can be in excess of 230
years old. I have counted the rings on many trees that were over 330 years old.

I have often wondered just how ancient some of the 14-15' CBH "old warriors"
I have encountered may be.

In some of the better growing sites for chestnut oak the trees can have 50
feet of clean bole and run up to 110 feet tall. However, if the CO is 110'
tall, red oak is at least 120' on the same site. The fattest chestnut oaks are
usually under 90' tall.

Any insights from around the boonies would be appreciated.

Russ Richardson
Re: chestnut oak   Colby Rucker
  Jan 27, 2004 22:25 PST 

Chestnut oak is very common on the steep slopes along this part of the Severn River, "The Hudson in Miniature." It grows rapidly here in "The Highlands of the Severn," and I've seen three over 15' CBH. The oldest I've cut was 160 years. Although some, judging from the thick narrow bark plates on the sheltered side, may be more, older specimens often succumb to windthrow and root rots.

Chestnut oak dominates excessively drained steep south to west-facing loamy sands, with some black oak, white oak and Virginia pine. Form is rather compact on these sites. The tallest trees, to 124.8', are found on low-slope positions on sites having some tuliptree.

Maryland's largest specimen is on the Eastern Shore, in Queen Anne's County. It's open-grown, one trunk, 20' 9" x 90 h. x 115 spr. Coppices are very common hereabouts; the largest I've seen divided about six feet up and was over 22' in circumference.

Re: chestnut oak   Dee & Neil Pederson
  Jan 28, 2004 04:59 PST 


I know of at least 6 chestnut oaks more than 400 years old collected
by 3 different people. There seems to be a 7th on Savage Mountain in
MD. The exact age of that tree is not given in a paper about fire
history on Savage Mountain.

One of the 6 chestnut oaks was hollow at the base of its stem. It
had just fallen and was cored ~12' above its root collar. All of this
would make me think chestnut oak can live at least 450 years. It is
hard to prove that chestnut oak lives longer than 4 centuries since
heartwood decay is prevalent among trees in this age class. I've
cored several very old looking chestnut oak that proved to be hollow.

Hope this helps,

RE: chestnut oak   Will Blozan
  Jan 28, 2004 05:49 PST 
I have cored co to 398 years, and seen trail cut trees over 400 in the
Smokies. The largest I know of in the Smokies is 18'10", but most big ones
are less than 15'. Three trees have been found over 140' tall, with 115-125'
much more common.

Re: chestnut oak
  Jan 28, 2004 12:01 PST 

That gives me something good to go by. I think that the maximums in terms of
size are not likely to be found in West Virginia. It is such a common remant
of the original forest that I have often wondered where they could factor in.

I'll be taking a closer look at some of the big stumps I encounter for
additional ring counts.