Herb: Yellow Chestnut Oak

Latin name: Quercus muehlenbergii

Synonyms: Quercus acuminata, Quercus prinus acuminata

Family: Fagaceae (Beech Family)

Medicinal use of Yellow Chestnut Oak:

An infusion of the bark has been used in the treatment of vomiting. Any galls produced on the tree are strongly astringent and can be used in the treatment of haemorrhages, chronic diarrhoea, dysentery etc.

Description of the plant:


20 m
(66 feet)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Dry calcareous slopes and ridges, or on rich bottoms. Well-drained uplands, favouring limestone soils and avoiding acid soils.

Edible parts of Yellow Chestnut Oak:

Seed - cooked. It is up to 18mm long. The seed contains very little bitter tannin, it is quite sweet and rather pleasant eating. Tastes nice when baked in an oven. Any bitter seeds can be leached by thoroughly washing the seed in running water though many minerals will also be lost. Either the whole seed can be used or the seed can be dried and ground it into a powder. It can take several days or even weeks to properly leach whole seeds, one method was to wrap them in a cloth bag and place them in a stream. Leaching the powder is quicker. A simple taste test can tell when the tannin has been leached. The traditional method of preparing the seed was to bury it in boggy ground overwinter. The germinating seed was dug up in the spring when it would have lost most of its astringency Roasted seed is a coffee substitute.

Other uses of the herb:

A mulch of the leaves repels slugs, grubs etc, though fresh leaves should not be used as these can inhibit plant growth. Oak galls are excrescences that are sometimes produced in great numbers on the tree and are caused by the activity of the larvae of different insects. The insects live inside these galls, obtaining their nutrient therein. When the insect pupates and leaves, the gall can be used as a rich source of tannin, that can also be used as a dyestuff. Wood - heavy, very hard, strong, close grained, durable. It weighs 53lb per cubic foot. Not abundant enough to be used commercially, it is used for fencing, cooperage etc and makes an excellent fuel.

Propagation of Yellow Chestnut Oak:

Seed - it quickly loses viability if it is allowed to dry out. It can be stored moist and cool overwinter but is best sown as soon as it is ripe in an outdoor seed bed, though it must be protected from mice, squirrels etc. Small quantities of seed can be sown in deep pots in a cold frame. Plants produce a deep taproot and need to be planted out into their permanent positions as soon as possible, in fact seed sown in situ will produce the best trees. Trees should not be left in a nursery bed for more than 2 growing seasons without being moved or they will transplant very badly.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry calcareous slopes and ridges, or on rich bottoms. Well-drained uplands, favouring limestone soils and avoiding acid soils.

Known hazards of Quercus muehlenbergii:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.