Learn about the Ozark chinquapin at Sept. 21 MDC program

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JOPLIN, Mo. – Ozark chinquapin trees were once important to both wildlife and humans in southern Missouri. The abundance of this popular chestnut tree has declined significantly over the decades, but there’s still hope it can remain a part of the Ozarks landscape.

People interested in learning more why this tree is important and why it’s not as common as it once was should sign up for the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) program “The Ozark Chinquapin and Conservation Efforts” at MDC’s Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center in Joplin. This free program is Sept. 21, from 6-7:30 p.m., and is for ages 14 and up. The Shoal Creek Center is located at 201 W. Riviera Drive in Joplin. People can register for this program at:


The Ozarks chinquapin was once an abundant member of forests in southern Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and eastern Texas. Each autumn, these trees produced a number of tasty nuts that were valued food items for both wildlife and humans. Ozark chinquapin’s wood was known for its rot resistance and, thus, made an excellent material for railroad ties, fence posts, and furniture.

It’s important to note that Ozarks chinquapin (Castanea ozarkensisis) is a chestnut tree and is different from chinkapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii), a white oak tree that is much more common.

Chestnut blight played a major role in the decline of Ozarks chinquapin trees, but development of the land also was a factor. At the Sept. 21 program, MDC Conservation Educator Jeff Cantrell will discuss the role this tree – when it was more abundant – played in local ecosystems. He will also discuss the current efforts of the Ozark Chinquapin Foundation, a local group which has been working for 15 years to save this tree species.

Though this program is free, registration is required to participate using the link above. Program registrants should note that they now have the option to link their children’s accounts to their own, which will streamline the program registration process. Once a group account is set up, parents will be able to register their children for an event without having to log-off or log-in for each person. This allows parents to register an entire family or select family members for an event at the same time.

For more information about the Sept. 21 program or other upcoming events at MDC's Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center, call 417-629-3434. Staff at MDC facilities across the state are holding in-person and virtual programs. A listing of these programs can be found at mdc.mo.gov/events.