PlantFiles is getting a new look! Just in time for spring, we're rolling out a new look for the best online plants database. It will also work with your smart phones and mobile devices, so now you can take it with you on garden center visits or botanical garden tours. Questions or comments? Please post them here.

American Chestnut, American Sweet Chestnut
Castanea dentata

Family: Fagaceae (fag-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Castanea (kas-TAN-nee-uh) (Info)
Species: dentata (den-TAY-tuh) (Info)
Synonym:Castanea americana

Category:

Trees

Height:

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

over 40 ft. (12 m)

Spacing:

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Danger:

N/A

Bloom Color:

Pale Yellow

White/Near White

Inconspicuous/none

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Foliage:

Grown for foliage

Deciduous

Good Fall Color

Other details:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Provides winter interest

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:

Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Cumberland, Maryland

Lawrence, Massachusetts

Gladstone, Michigan

Chaska, Minnesota

Fairport, New York

Panama, New York

Dundee, Ohio

Vermilion, Ohio

Birdsboro, Pennsylvania

Gibsonia, Pennsylvania

Media, Pennsylvania

Swansea, South Carolina

Sevierville, Tennessee

Austin, Texas

Cambridge, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

4
positives
3
neutrals
0
negatives
RatingContent
Neutral

On Mar 3, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

With proper care, it is still possible to grow blight-sensitive American chestnuts in their native range up to about 30' in height and 6" trunk diameter. Cultivated trees are important for preserving genetic diversity for future restoration work. They will eventually be hit by the blight, but can produce chestnuts and wood until then. Chestnut blight does not kill the roots, and stump sprouts can be re-grown into productive trees.

This was once the most common tree in the Appalachian forests from Maine to Mississippi, growing to 120'. Massive, majestic, and beautiful, it was a keystone species in the ecology of the eastern forests. It was also of tremendous economic value for its rot-resistant lumber, tannin for leather tanning, and food for humans, livestock, and wildlife. ... read more

Positive

On Dec 12, 2013, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

I first saw some of those chestnut tree sprouts that keep coming up from old trunks in the forest of Crows Nest Land Preserve in Southeast PA, before dying back down from the blight. Then I visited Tyler Arboretum's Chestnut plantation, surrounded by fencing to keep deer out, near Media, PA. Their trees vary from being pure American species that have enought resistance to grow decently to plants that are 1/8th or 1/4 or 1/2 Chinese. The American Chestnut Association has begun planting trees that are 15/16th American in various forests in the Apppalachian Region.

Positive

On Sep 12, 2012, 10jdjean from Gladstone, MI wrote:

This tree is very hardy in zone 4 and grows well in sandy soil. I have had it for about 3 years and it has thrived out of the range of chestnut blight.

Positive

On Jun 11, 2010, runnow from Sevierville, TN wrote:

Once the dominant tree in this area it was nearly
elimanated by Chestnut blight. I planted two trees from the
new breeding program 2 years ago which seem to be doing well. It was a major food source for the Cherokee and for wildlife.During a recent trip to the Smoky Mountains National
Park I came across 37 young Chestnuts next to a trail at 5,000 feet near Fraser Firs killed by Balsam adelgids.

Neutral

On Sep 25, 2004, philomel from Castelnau RB Pyrenes
France (Zone 8a) wrote:

When it avoids the above problems it forms an attractive tree carrying large greenish yellow catkins in the summer, which develop into typical chestnut fruits with spiny casings. It has good autumn leaf colour of orangey-yellow. The leaves have toothed edges

Positive

On Dec 20, 2003, tmpugel wrote:

The American Chestnut Foundation's backcross breeding program will produce American chestnut trees that are resistant to chestnut blight. In less than ten years the first resistant trees will be planted out. The web page is http://www.acf.org
Tom Pugel

Neutral

On Aug 29, 2003, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

A massive tree, but unfortunately Castanea dentata is highly susceptible to Chestnut blight (Endothia parasitica), as well as leaf spot, anthracnose and powdery mildew.