The Ozark Chinquapin (Castanea Ozarkensis) had a historic range that was much larger than the current range. The chestnut blight, logging practices, followed by farming practices, and conversion of forest lands to grazing land have eliminated this species from much of it's historic range.
Typically the trees grow on acidic rocky cherty soils, with non-swelling clays and are found with pine/oak/hickory. Hillsides and hill tops in the Ozarks are preferred growing sites. The trees are drought tolerant and require good drainage from their roots. A distinctive pattern was found regarding soil type. The historic range of the trees follows a pattern of non-swelling clays in the soil. Exception to this was noted with sandy well drained soils where trees were found naturally growing in portions of Mississippi and Arkansas in 2005. These sandy soils still allowed for good drainage around the roots.
Range maps today show the tree in extreme southwest Missouri, Northwest Arkansas and the extreme Eastern portion of Oklahoma.
However, upon examination of books on trees from the early 1900’s a much larger range is indicated. Upon examining range maps of older tree books a larger range is indicated with each two to three decades you go back in time to the early 1900’s. Early in the 1900’s the term Ozark Chinquapin does not appear in most tree books. Because of this they were lumped in with the Alleghany Chinquapin (Castanea Pumila). Tree book Authors made specific comments that in Southern Missouri and Arkansas the trees reached heights up to 65 feet tall and 2-3 feet in diameter. This notation occurs in several early 1900’s tree book references. The word "Ozark Chinquapin" does not become commonly used until roughly after the 1930’s-1940’s. Before this they were considered incredible large Alleghany Chinquapins that grew in the Ozarks.
This historic range of the Ozark Chinquapin indicates a range that included roughly 40% of Southern Missouri (area south of Missouri River), most of Arkansas that has some elevation, a portion of the eastern fourth of Oklahoma, portions of northern Louisiana, portions of Mississippi, and Alabama. Based on historic accounts the trees attained their largest size and highest concentrations in the Ozark Mountains.
NOTE: Not until after the 1930's-1940's (in some books as late as the 1960's) does the term "Ozark Chinquapin" (Ozarkensis Castanea) become commonly referred to in tree books. Prior to these dates tree book authors lumped them together with the Allegheny and made special notations about incredible large Allegheny chinquapins that grew in Arkansas and in Southern Missouri;
"……nuts sometimes to be seen in the markets of towns in our South. In that region it is useless as a timber, being indeed little more than a shrub, but west of the Mississippi it seems to be inspired by a new ambition and reaches heights up to 50 feet, with a diameter of two or three feet." A Natural History of Trees, Donald Culross Peattie, page 191, copyright 1948-1950
MAP SOURCE:How To Know The Trees, H.E. Jaques, page 52, copyright 1941-1946
1907 MAP SOURCE: Handbook Of The Northern States And Canada East Of The Rocky Mountains, Romeyn Beck Hough, page 137, copyright 1907
1988 MAP SOURCE: Trees Of Southeastern United States, Wilbur H. Duncan and Marion B. Duncan, page 234, Copyright 1988 “Ozark Chinquapin, Castanea ozarkensis Ashe, Shrubs or trees formerly to 20 m. tall by 1.2 m DBH.”
OTHER BOOK SOURCES SPECIFICALLY LISTING RANGE AND SIZE OF OZARK CHINQUAPIN
Allegheny Chiquapin Distribution: “In Arkansas, southern Missouri, and eastern Oklahoma replaced by Castanea ozarkensis Ashe.”Manual Of Trees Of North America, Charles Sprague Sargent, page 233, Copyright 1965
Ozark Chinquapin (Castanea ozarkensis Ashe…… “Height to 65’. Flowers June. Dry woods; s. Missouri and Oklahoma to Mississippi and Louisiana.”A Field Guide To Trees and Shrubs, George A. Petrides, page 265, Copyright 1958
Ozark Chinkapin, Castasnea ozarkensis Ashe. “This small tree is found on the Ozark-Ouachita plateau, in southern Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Mississippi, and on the adjacent costal plain.”Guide to Southern Trees, Ellwood S. Harrar, page 173, Copyright 1946, 1962
Ozark chinquapin, Castanea ozarkensis Ashe…….. “Height 65’. Flowers June. Dry woods; s. Missouri and Oklahoma to Mississippi and Louisiana.”A Field Guide To Trees and Shrubs, George A. Petrides, page 345, Copyright 1958
Castanea ozarkensis Ashe. "Tree up to 20 m. tall, sometimes with several stems from a common base, the trunk sometimes 1 m. in diameter, the bark furrowed, Woods, rocky slopes, and stream-banks, Ozark-Ouachita Plateau and adj. Costal Plain, Miss. To La., Okla., and S Mo. ”Manual Of Southeastern Flora, John Kundall Small, Copyright 1933