Native Plant of the Month: Golden Chinkapin

By City Landscape Staff

  • Common Name: Golden Chinquapin
  • Binomial Name: Chrysolepis chrysophylla
  • Soil Type: Dry
  • Sunlight: Part shade to Part sun
  • Form/Growth: Can vary in size from small shrub to 150’ tree
  • Plant Type: Tree or shrub
  • Foliage: Leathery, evergreen leaves.
  • Flowering: Yes.

Unique in several ways, the Golden Chinquapin is an especially beautiful part of the Pacific Northwest ecosystem. This broadleaf evergreen can be found up and down the west coast from central California and up into southern Washington. It favors soil types that are often found in redwood and pine forests, and you’ll often find the leathery leaves of the Chinquapin growing right alongside coast redwoods, madrone trees, and coastal varieties of pine.

The Chinquapin can be easily identified by its singular appearance. It can appear to be a small shrub, or a 150’ giant, depending on conditions. Its long, shiny leaves are dark green on top with yellow “scales” underneath. Its fruit grows in bunches, and are spiny with 1-2 triangular nuts. The bark is ridged with deep furrows up and down.

Chinquapin wood is known to hobby woodworkers as particularly sturdy and desirable. If these trees grew in large monocultural swaths, they would likely be heavily logged for construction material.

Native Plant of the Month is brought to you by the City of Beaverton’s Landscape and Urban Forestry Department.