Chestnut Oak : Taxonomy

Swamp Chestnut Oak

Leaves of the Swamp Chestnut Oak (Quercus michauxii); tree which many scientists first believed to be of the same species as the Chestnut Oak (Matthew O’Donnell, May 2014)


The officially accepted Latin name for Chestnut Oak is Quercus prinus though there has been confusion over the legitimacy of this name. The source of this complication comes from the considerable difficulty in telling the Chestnut Oak apart from the Swamp Chestnut Oak. In the past scientists often mistook them for the same species labeling them both as Quercus prinus and at times even including the other two members of the Chestnut Oak group, the Dwarf Chestnut Oak and the Chinkapin Oak, under the same species name. When it was later determined that the two trees should belong to distinct species’, the names Quercus michauxii (Swamp Chestnut Oak) and Quercus montana (Chestnut Oak) were agreed upon to differentiate between them. Though as it stands today, Quercus prinus is the officially accepted species name of the Chestnut Oak, many scientists still feel the proper name should be Quercus montana to escape the confusion inevitably attached to the name Quercus prinus.