Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: 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

6 vendors have this plant for sale.

8 members have or want this plant for trade.


20-30 ft. (6-9 m)
30-40 ft. (9-12 m)
over 40 ft. (12 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

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


Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer

Grown for foliage
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:

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

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4 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral coriaceous 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. The chestnuts are said to be smaller than Asian chestnuts but much tastier.

The chestnut blight fungus, accidentally introduced from Asia at the end of the nineteenth century, has virtually wiped it out as a major forest tree. A few isolated trees remain, and sprouts from old stumps are not uncommon.

Two separate private non-profit organizations have been working independently to breed blight-resistant trees: The American Chestnut Foundation and the American Chestnut Cooperators' Association. The Canadian Chestnut Foundation is working towards the same goal: the restoration of this important forest tree throughout its original range.

All three are interested in receiving reports on any surviving trees or stump sprouts you may encounter, and can help you with their proper identification.

The US Forest Service began small-scale experiments in restoration with newly bred trees in 2008. These blight-resistant forest trees are not yet available to private individuals, but should become available within a few years.

Information on how to grow blight-sensitive American chestnuts is available through the above-mentioned chestnut organizations.

If your primary interest in growing chestnuts is for nut production, and you're inside the original range of this species where chestnut blight prevails, you'll be better off with a blight-resistant asian chestnut or hybrid.

Blight-resistant hybrids of C. americana with other species---bred for nut production rather than forest restoration---are commercially available.

Added: The American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project is another organization working to preserve American chestnut germ plasm and develop blight-resistant trees, using different and complementary methods.

Positive Rickwebb 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 10jdjean 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 runnow 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 philomel 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 tmpugel 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
Tom Pugel

Neutral Terry 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.


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

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