Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Chinese Chestnut
Castanea mollissima

Family: Fagaceae (fag-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Castanea (kas-TAN-nee-uh) (Info)
Species: mollissima (maw-LISS-ih-muh) (Info)

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

12 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)

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)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction
Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer

Good Fall Color

Other details:
Flowers are fragrant
Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
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:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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2 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

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

Resistant to chestnut blight.

Chinese chestnuts have been selected as orchard trees over many centuries. They have been bred for a short, low-branched and spreading habit to make for easy harvest.

I find the scent of the flowers unpleasantly heavy, though some people like it. It's strong enough to perfume the air.

In the fall, they drop lots of spiny burs over an extended period. This is a maintenance problem if you're using them ornamentally where there are children or pets or pedestrian or vehicular traffic.

In spacing trees, bear in mind that in maturity the crowns can reach 50' across. For home production, a single tree may be enough.

If you want commercial-quality harvests, plant grafted cultivars rather than seed-grown plants. For best pollination, you need at least two genetically different trees within 200' to overcome self-incompatibility issues.

The species may be hardy to Z4, but I read that much of the stock available in the US is not reliably hardy much north of Z6.

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

It is my belief that chinese chestnut is one of the most underrated trees in the united states. People never seem to talk about it much other than as a replacement for the blighted american. It seems like people almost have a certain degree of animosity for it being not as big or grand as the native american. Its being used for breeding purposes to defer resistance etc..
Chinese chestnut is a nice orchard tree that will last for a few generations and only increase in size and longevity. It has beautiful leaves and a pretty high degree of drought resistance and tends to branch low from the trunk in multiple leaders. It has charming sturdy stubiness about it in its twigs and leaves and growth form that make it endearing and tough. Genetically it is probably the progenitor of all of the chestnut species. The nuts are delicious roasted and a great treat for wildlife. Chestnuts love their sun and light and being bred for thousands of years in china as an orchard crop they have lost their forest competitiveness.
Its best to give it lots of light in its youth. In the south it's resistant to both drought, chestnut blight, and ink disease. Apparently asian ambrosia beetles and gall wasps are proving to be troublesome in some limited areas.
overall though it will make a spectacular spreading medium shade tree with golden auburn fall color. Its very beneficial to man and wildlife. The biomass of the leaves improve the soil quite nicely. Its my favorite tree

Positive slyperso1 On Oct 13, 2008, slyperso1 from Richland, MI (Zone 5b) wrote:

I planted 4 in heavy clay on a slope.
All did well, but you have to keep the soil as acidic as possible, by using pine bark, oak leave, or pine needles.
You can find them growing in large forest on the lower to medium elevation of granite mountains (granite is acidic). Just to say that this tree is rugged provided its in a moist and acidic soil.

Neutral smiln32 On Nov 5, 2004, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Prefers deep, sandy loam soil. Nuts are edible and quite tasty. Plants are self-fertile, but planting more than one ensures the best pollination for nut production. Leaves turn yellow/bronze in fall.


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

Bay Minette, Alabama
Midland City, Alabama
Waynesboro, Mississippi
Buffalo, New York
Cincinnati, Ohio
Dundee, Ohio
Irwin, Pennsylvania
West Newton, Pennsylvania
Swansea, South Carolina
Lebanon, Tennessee
Mc Minnville, Tennessee
Morrison, Tennessee

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