Bush Chinquapin (not to be confused with Golden Chinquapin) is a beautiful native evergreen with sweet nuts, a favorite food of wildlife and humans alike.
Bush Chinquapin has spikey burrs (like chestnuts) which contains delicious shelled nuts (like a pine nut). These nuts can be peeled/cracked and eaten raw or roasted, or made into confections. Their flavor is sweet and rich, perhaps most similar to hazelnuts.
Chinquapin Bushes rank just as high with ornamental gardeners as they do with wild forages. They add a lovely presence to home landscapes. Their ovular leaves are green on top and golden underneath, making a pleasing color combination. Their mid-summer flowers are white, emerging as fuzzy, cream-colored catkins, developing into unique yellow-golden-brown burrs that are as uniquely ornamental as they are spiky. Careful - don't squeeze!
What's more, the Bush Chinquapin's size is much smaller than its relative the Golden Chinquapin, and it's smaller stature is a better fit for front and back yards.
Environment and Culture
In their natural habitat, Chinquapin Bushes tend to grow in higher elevations (above 3000ft.), usually on South facing slopes. They grow in the interior southwest of Oregon and California, as well as throughout the Klamath Mountains, the full Sierra Nevada range, and the San Gabriel, San Bernardino, and San Jacinto Mountains of the Southern California. a
Chinquapin prefers rocky or sandy soils, and does not tolerate clay well. Chinquapin prefers full sun, though can tolerate partial shade, and is rather drought resistant. Chinquapin grows amongst Western Juniper, Sugar Pines, Big Sagebrush, and Bluebunch Wheatgrass. They are hosts to many different types of moths and butterflies. Each bush contains both male and female flowers, and are pollinated by the wind.
Northwest Native American tribes today still value this special plant as food, medicine, and family. Despite great cultural losses, they continue to work towards stewarding and restoring wild populations, both strengthening the integrity of the ecology and sustaining their cultural heritage and wisdom. These strong and recovering peoples and plants deserve our respect, gratitude, and reparations. (Learn more & how to help on our Charitable Giving page.)
Harvest, Care, and Preparation
Burr should be collected with thick gloves in the late Summer to early Fall, when the burrs are beginning to brown. If one waits too long, the burr will crack and expel the seeds on the ground for the wildlife. After harvest, lay the burrs out in the sun, away from critters, allowing them to thoroughly dry. Then, place them on a hard surface and roll your shoe or another hard object over them, popping the seeds out. Crack the seeds and enjoy raw or roasted!
Native Range: OR, CA, NV
USDA zones: 8-9
Ease of Care:Easy
Light Requirements: Partial sun to Full sun
Soil Type:Sandy, Rocky, Well drained soil, Acidic or neutral pH