Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Divisio: Magnoliophyta
Classis: Magnoliopsida
Ordo: Fagales
Familia: Fagaceae
Genus: Castanopsis
Species: C. acuminatissima - C. argentea - C. argyrophylla - C. carlesii - C. concinna - C. cuspidata - C. delavayi - C. diversifolia - C. eyrei - C. fabri - C. fargesii - C. indica - C. inermis - C. javanica - C. kawakamii - C. lanceifolia - C. philipensis - C. purpurella - C. sclerophylla - C. sieboldii - C. tessellata - C. tibetana - C. tribuloides - C. tungurrut


Castanopsis (D.Don) Spach

Vernacular name
日本語: シイ属
Українська: Кастанопсіс

Castanopsis (chinquapin or chinkapin) is a genus of evergreen trees belonging to the beech family, Fagaceae. The genus contains about 120 species, which are today restricted to tropical and subtropical eastern Asia. A total of 58 species are native to China, with 30 endemic; the other species occur further south, through Indochina to Indonesia, and also in Japan. The English name chinkapin is shared with other related plants, including the golden chinkapins of the Pacific United States, which are sometimes included within Castanopsis but are more often considered a separate but very closely related genus, Chrysolepis.

They show many characters typical of Fagaceae. They are at least large shrubs but some species grow into sizeable trees. Their leaves are usually tough and much sclerotized and have a well-developed cuticula. Their flowers are unisexual, and the male ones are borne in erect catkins. The epigynous female flowers produce a single seed each but are congregated in small clusters. The fruit is a calybium, the kind of encased nut typical of Fabaceae[1]. The calybium (nut) resembles a pointed acorn; the cupule (casing) is hard like that of beechnuts and spiny like that of chestnuts. Three thickened ridges run the length of the calybium's shell[1].

Uses and ecology

In their rather circumscribed area of occurrence, Castanopsis are able to inhabit a wide range of temperate to tropical habitat and are often keystone species in their ecosystems[1]. They are plentiful in ecotones as diverse as Borneo montane rain forests, Taiwan subtropical evergreen forests and Northern Triangle temperate forests. Generally they are common in Fagales-dominated montane forests and temperate to subtropical laurel forests. In the latter, they are characteristic elements of the climax vegetation in essentially their entire continental Asian range, as well as on Taiwan[1].
Strip mining for fossil Castanopsis. Garzweiler (Germany), 2006. Click to enlarge; note Bagger 288 and 289 in the left background.

Plants of this genus grow on many soil types, as long as they are not calcareous. Several species have adapted to podsolic, peat bog, swamp and other acidic and/or wet soils, or to the poor dry soils common in arid habitat. Around the Oligo-Miocene boundary, Castanopsis grew abundantly along rivers and in bogs and swamps of then-subtropical Europe. The prehistoric plant community Castanopsietum oligo-miocenicum is the source of much of the lignite ("brown coal") deposits in Western and Central Europe.[1]

Most species yield valuable timber but some have become rare due to unsustainable logging, C. catappaefolia is even in danger of extinction. As noted above, however, perhaps the most important use for Castanopsis wood is in its fossil form. 175,400 metric tons of lignite - much of which was former chinkapin trees - were mined in Germany in 2001.

As with many Fagaceae, the nuts of many Castanopsis species are edible. The trees may be grown for their nuts, but more often they are used as forestry or ornamental trees and the nuts are collected opportunistically. Among many animals, such as tits, corvids, rodents, deer and pigs, the nuts are popular as food too.

Meguro, Tokyo and Matsudo, Chiba in Japan use shii (椎; Castanopsis cuspidata)[verification needed] as one of their municipal symbols. The well-known and commercially important shiitake mushroom likes to grow on the logs of C. cuspidata and derives its common name from this: shii-take simply means "Castanopsis cuspidata mushroom".

Selected species

* Castanopsis acuminatissima (Blume) A. DC. (= Castanea acuminatissima Blume, Quercus junghuhnii Miq.)
* Castanopsis argentea (Blume) A. DC. (= Castanea argentea (Blume) Blume)
* Castanopsis argyrophylla King ex Hook. f.
* Castanopsis calathiformis
* Castanopsis carlesii (Hemsl.) Hayata (= Quercus carlesii Hemsl.)
* Castanopsis catappaefolia
* Castanopsis ceratacantha
* Castanopsis cerebrina
* Castanopsis choboensis
* Castanopsis chunii
* Castanopsis clarkei
* Castanopsis concinna
* Castanopsis crassifolia
* Castanopsis curtisii
* Castanopsis cuspidata – Japanese Chinquapin, shii
* Castanopsis delavayi Franch.
* Castanopsis diversifolia (Kurz) King ex Hook. f. (= Castanea diversifolia Kurz)
* Castanopsis eyrei (Champ. ex Benth.) Tutcher (= Castanopsis caudata Franch., Quercus eyrei Champ. ex Benth.)
* Castanopsis fabri Hance (= Castanopsis stellatospina Hayata)
* Castanopsis fargesii Franch. (= Castanopsis taiwaniana Hayata)
* Castanopsis fissa
* Castanopsis fordii
* Castanopsis globigemmata
* Castanopsis hainanensis
* Castanopsis hystrix
* Castanopsis indica (Roxb. ex Lindl.) A. DC. (= Castanea indica Roxb.)
* Castanopsis inermis (Lindl.) Benth. & Hook. f. (= Callaeocarpus sumatrana Miq., Castanea inermis Lindl., Castanopsis sumatrana (Miq.) A. DC.)
* Castanopsis javanica (Blume) A. DC. (= Castanea javanica (Blume) Blume, Fagus javanica Blume, Quercus discocarpa Hance, Quercus javanica (Blume) Drake)
* Castanopsis kawakamii
* Castanopsis kweichowensis
* Castanopsis lamontii
* Castanopsis lanceifolia (Kurz) Hickel & A. Camus
* Castanopsis longzhouica
* Castanopsis mekongensis
* Castanopsis nephelioides
* Castanopsis orthacantha
* Castanopsis philipensis (Blanco) S. Vidal (= Fagus philipensis Blanco)
* Castanopsis platyacantha
* Castanopsis rockii
* Castanopsis sclerophylla (Lindl. & Paxton) Schottky (= Quercus chinensis C. Abel, Quercus sclerophylla Lindl. & Paxton)
* Castanopsis scortechinii
* Castanopsis sieboldii (Makino) Hatus. (= Castanopsis cuspidata var. sieboldii (Makino) Nakai, Pasania cuspidata var. sieboldii Makino)
* Castanopsis tessellata Hickel & A. Camus
* Castanopsis tibetana Hance)
* Castanopsis tribuloides (Sm.) A. DC. (= Quercus tribuloides Sm.)
* Castanopsis tungurrut (Blume) A. DC. (= Castanea tungurrut Blume)
* Castanopsis uraiana
* Castanopsis wallichii
* Castanopsis wattii
* Castanopsis xichouensis

Formerly placed here

* Castanea henryi (Skan) Rehder & E. H. Wilson (as C. henryi Skan)
* Chrysolepis

Fossil record

Fossil species known from Miocene Europe are:

* Castanopsis pyramidata (Menzel) Kirchheimer
* Castanopsis salinarum (Unger) Kirchheimer
* Castanopsis schmidtiana (Geinitz) Kräusel

These are known and identifiable from their fruit. It is not entirely clear if they belong here or into Chrysolepis, but the pattern of biogeography - with the two genera being most diverse around the Pacific but absent from North America east of the Rocky Mountains[verification needed] suggests that they are indeed correctly assigned to Castanopsis. In addition, two form taxa refer to the remains of these trees, at least in part: the fossil wood Castanoxylon eschweilerense and the fossil pollen Tricolporopollenites cingulum ssp. pusillus.[1]


1. ^ a b c d e f Gee et al. (2003)


* Gee, Carole T.; Sander, P. Martin & Petzelberger, Bianka E.M. (2003): A Miocene rodent nut cache in coastal dunes of the Lower Rhine Embayment, Germany. Palaeontology 46(6): 1133-1149. doi:10.1046/j.0031-0239.2003.00337.x

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