Plant types and subtypes: Trees & Shrubs, Trees
Light Requirements: sun, part-sun, part-shade
Water Use: medium
Soil Moisture: moist
Soil Description: acid, rich, average, loam, clay
Bloom Time: June, July
Bloom Color: white
Leaf Color: green
Hardiness Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Additional Tags: attracts bees, fall interest, fragrant flowers, rare
Pricing & Availability
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Castanea dentataAlso known as:
The all-American chestnuts we are offering are a 3rd generation of back-crosses from the handful of American chestnuts that survived the blight. There is a parallel effort underway to produce blight-resistant chestnuts, which involves crosses with Chinese chestnuts, and back-crosses of American chestnuts to reduce the the amount of introduced genes as much as possible while retaining the blight-resistant trait of the Chinese strain. Both efforts are producing encouraging results, though they are still generations away from reaching the level of reliability deemed necessary to begin reforestation efforts.
Are these trees blight resistant or not, and if not, why should I grow them?
-- The All-American chestnuts have overall shown good blight resistance, with some showing superior resistance.
-- While it is likely that these trees will eventually succumb to the blight, you will have years to enjoy them before this happens. They can produce fruit in as few as 7 years, and current research has shown these trees can grow to 6” dbh (diameter at breast height) and a height of 30’, or more under favorable conditions, before being affected.
What can I do to improve the survival of my trees, and what should I do if they die?
-- The most important, is to make sure the trees establish properly during the first few years after transplant.
-- Site selection will be important, and you should refer to our cultivation guidelines posted below.
-- The roots of young trees can easily be damaged by rabbits and voles. If these critters inhabit your area, it is recommended to line the planting hole with a gardening mesh to protect the roots during the first few years.
-- Deer browse can also be a serious factor, and you should follow standard practices to protect the young trees against them: a 6’ tall deer fence around each tree will protect the trunks and young branches until they grow taller than the browse line.
-- If your tree dies due to the blight, rather than environmental circumstances such as drought or root rot, you can cut it down to the ground and it will produce new shoots. Prune all but the strongest one, protect it from deer, and before long your new tree will be produce chestnuts.
Why should I plant straight American chestnuts now, rather than wait for the blight-resistant ones to become available?
-- No one can predict when blight-resistant material will become available. Each generation takes time to mature, be tested and assessed, and back-crossed. We are probably decades away from developing strains that have consistent, exceptional resistance.
-- The material currently available is of high enough quality, combined with the ability of the trees to resprout if cut down, that they can be grown to create permanent chestnut orchards.
-- The nuts that these trees will produce, as well as their timber, are valuable commodities.
-- You will help preserve the genetic background of the surviving trees for future generations.
-- Ultimately, there are no real drawbacks to planting “pure” American chestnuts now. You will be helping preserve the native germplasm, producing nuts for human consumption and/or a food source for wildlife,and learning/teaching the proper care for an all but extinct species.
-- The only long-term resource you are committing to is space. Should blight-resistant strains become our lifetime, you can easily replace your trees with comfort in the knowledge you will have gained in caring for this iconic species.
The American chestnut is best grown in a bright location. Soil should be on acidic side, moist and well drained. It can be high in loam, rocky, and will tolerate light clay (poorly-drained heavy clay should be avoided). During establishment, young tree roots should be protected against temperature extremes, which can be achieved by spreading a layer of mulch or leaf mold taking care to keep it away from the trunk. The taproot can be damaged by voles and may require protection if they are abundant in the planting are. Protective deer cages are also recommended until the trees have grown beyond the browse line. The species is monoecious, with each tree producing both male and female flowers in the form of catkins, however they cannot self pollinate. Two or more trees should be planted in proximity to one another to ensure fruit production.
Once a dominant species in our woodlands, it is estimated that up to 4 billion trees were lost to the blight in the first 40 years of the twentieth century.
Native Range & Classification
Recorded County Distribution: USDA data
AL, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT, WI, WV
USDA Endangered Status:
- Endangered: KY, MI
- Special Concern: ME, TN
|Species||Castanea dentata||American chestnut|