Chrysolepis chrysophylla
Common name: 
Golden Chinkapin
Giant Chinkapin
kris-o-LEP-is kris-o-FIL-ah
Castanopis chrysophylla
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Broadleaf evergreen shrub or tree, sometimes to a height of 150 ft (45 m), usually much smaller, the shrub form is sometimes designated as C. chrysophylla var. minor (but see below).  Bark is thick and furrowed; twigs scurfy with small golden-yellow scales.  Leaves alternate, simple, 5-13 cm long and 1.5-4 cm wide, lanceolate to oblong, tapering at both ends; dark yellow-green above, the lower side is coated  with shiny golden to pale yellow scales.   Flowers white with a strong odor, in erect or spreading clusters, with male flowers in 3's, each with 6-15 stamens, female flowers 1-3 in a cup of scales.  Fruit a spiny bur, matures in the second year, 2.5-4 cm, with 1-3 nuts (8-12 mm).
  • Sun to light shade, best on well-drained soil, slow growing.  Adapted to dry summers.  Transplants with difficulty.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 7  Native along the Pacific Coast, from southwest Washington south in the Coast Range to central California, also in the Cascades and in the Sierra Nevada of central California.   It develops a number of shrubby ecotypes which intergrade with tree-like growth forms [Keeler-Wolf, T., Madrono. 35(4):285-308(1988)].  These differences in form are thought to reflect site conditions rather than genetic differences [Roof, J. B., Four Seasons 3(1):16-19 1969) and 3(2);15-19(1970)].   Because of this, the shrubby form (var. minor), commonly known as the shrub chinquapin, is no longer recognized as a separate entity [Kartesz, John T.; Kartesz, Rosemarie].
  • A similar species is Chrysolepis sempervirens, Sierra Chinkapin, a shrub found in the middle elevations of California's Sierra Nevada.
  • Chrysolepis: chryso, gold, and lepis, scale (presumably a reference to the golden scales on the leaf underside).   chrysophylla: chryso, gold, phylla, foliage or leaves, again a reference to the "golden" underside of the leaves.
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  • in habitat

    in habitat

  • in habitat

    in habitat

  • plant habit, shrub form

    plant habit, shrub form

  • single shrub

    single shrub

  • plant habit, habitat and landscape

    plant habit, habitat and landscape

  • large tree

    large tree

  • leaves and buds, spring

    leaves and buds, spring

  • new growth

    new growth

  • new growth, underside

    new growth, underside

  • mature leaves

    mature leaves

  • upper and lower leaf surface

    upper and lower leaf surface

  • start of flowering, summer

    start of flowering, summer

  • plant habit, flowering in habitat

    plant habit, flowering in habitat

  • flowering, in a landscape

    flowering, in a landscape

  • flower cluster

    flower cluster

  • flower spikes

    flower spikes

  • male and female flowers

    male and female flowers

  • developing fruit, second season

    developing fruit, second season

  • leaves and fruit, late summer

    leaves and fruit, late summer

  • fruit cluster

    fruit cluster

  • fruit cluster, fall

    fruit cluster, fall

  • fruit and seeds

    fruit and seeds

  • trunk, bark

    trunk, bark