Chestnut
Castanea dentata 

Location in Ontario

American Chestnut is a Carolinian Tree that grows in limited areas throughout the Carolinian Zone. Chestnuts grow on acidic sandy or gravelly soils, that are moist but well drained.

COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) Status: American Chestnut has been identified as an endangered species in Canada due to Chestnut Blight.
 
COSEWIC: American Chestnut



Beautiful open grown Chestnut tree in flower, St. Williams Nursery and Ecology Centre, Norfolk County. Unfortunately, this tree succumbed to Chestnut Blight and was removed.
   
Genus Castanea
Leaves are simple and alternate, long and narrow with sharp, widely spaced teeth. Trees are monoecious with male (pollen) flowers and female (seed) flowers on the same tree. Nuts are edible, and produced in burr-like husks. The only species of Castanea in Ontario is American Chestnut.

In the Landscape
Chestnut grows only to about 10 metres before dying from chestnut blight. In the past, it grew up to a beautiful large tree of 35 metres. Young trees sprout up from the stumps of dead trees, keeping the species going. Sadly, it is risky to plant Chestnut, as nearly all Chestnuts eventually succumb to Chestnut Blight (See Tree Diseases). Chestnut has sprays of white flowers in the early summer, and picturesque seed husks in the fall.  


Many small Chestnut trees can be found, but sadly few, if any, reach maturity.

Leaves
Chestnut leaves are simple with large sharp teeth (15-20 per side). They are long (15 to 28 cm) and narrow, coming to a sharp point. Leaves turn yellow to gold in the fall.
Bark
Although rare, the bark of large trees is smooth and dark brown, with flat topped ridges. For younger trees, the bark is smooth and dark brown.
Flowers
American Chestnut is monoecious with male (pollen) flowers and female (seed) flowers on the same tree. The flowers are creamy-white and appear after the leaves. Male flowers are in long catkins, and female flowers are single. Flowers appear in early July. Pollination is by wind, but can be by insects, particularly bees.
Fruit: One to three flat edible nuts are contained in a spiny, burr-like husk. Husks appear in summer and mature in October.

TREE FACT: There were once so many Chestnut trees that forests appeared snow-covered when the Chestnuts were in flower -- like "Christmas in July". 

TREE FACT: These chestnuts are edible, but are not the chestnuts found in stores which are from "Sweet Chestnut" trees, a similar tree from Europe. 

Wood
The wood is light and soft, but resistant to decay. American Chestnut was once prized for furniture and flooring, but due to the rarity and small size of the remaining trees, it has no commercial use today. 
Specific gravity: 0.43
Janka Hardness: 540 lb
Wood Comparison Chart


Chestnut loaded with nuts, St. Williams Nursery and Ecology Centre, Norfolk County

American Chestnut is not included in the United States Forest Service Silvics Manual.

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