If you’re looking for a shade tree that a Denver city forester once described as being tough as a junkyard dog, take a look at the chinkapin oak. Sometimes spelled chinquapin, it’s a stately medium-size tree with a rounded canopy that’s native to the central midwestern US as far west as central Kansas and south into northeastern Mexico.
When Spanish explorers reached the southern Rockies, they were greeted by a familiar sight. Large stands of short, bushy evergreen trees reminded them of the Stone Pines native to their homeland, so they called them by the same name—pino piñonero—a name they still go by today, albeit in a shortened form. And like its European cousin, the piñon, or pinyon, pine had been around for centuries, providing an important source of nutrition to ancient hunter-gatherer populations.
From the mythical forests of Robin Hood to the parks of Denver, the majestic English oak has graced temperate climate landscapes for centuries. And centuries is a key word when talking about English oaks—they live for hundreds of years, especially when well cared for. The oldest living specimens are in Bulgaria and Lithuania, estimated to be around 1,500 years old.
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