American Chestnut (Castenea dendata)
Much has been accomplished in the effort to revive the American Chestnut in the United States. As you will see below, you can now buy a hybrid American Chestnut that came from breeding the best parts of Chinese Chestnut with the American Chestnut, giving us trees that are very resistant to the Chestnut blight disease and in fact produce bigger and more tasty nuts than the original parent trees.
The American Chestnut, what few that are left, is native to southern Ontario, from Niagra Falls west to the southern tip of Lake Huron. It is listed as a threatened species by the Canadian government. It ranges south thoughout the mountainous areas of the eastern U.S. to the southern end of the Appalacians. The wood is very straight grained and has excellent resistance to rot equal to redwood. It was used for everything from fence posts to fine furniture.
Unlike the leaves of the Chinese Chestnut, those of the native Chestnut are smooth and narrowly tapered at both ends. They grow to about 9 inches long and turn golden in the fall.
The flowers are pale white staminate catkins that appear in early summer after the leaves have come out. The nuts grow in spiny burs and mature in the fall. Chestnuts require cross-pollination among trees because the timing of the male and female flowers on a single tree may not coincide. Trees will bear nuts when only a few years old.
More like grain than other nuts, Chestnuts are low in fat and boast a small amount of high quality protein. They are high in complex carbohydrates. They are considered to be the sweetest nut grown in the temperate zone and are almost a staple in the diets of folks in European countries.
For up to date information about the renewal of the American Chestnut check out The American Chestnut Foundation located in Vermont and found at http - //Chestnut.acf.org/. Another good source for updates is the Northern Nut Growers Association Inc. found at http - //www.icserv.com/nnga/Chestnut.htm . Two additional good sources of Chestnut information are http - //www.utc.edu/~jcraddoc/Chestnutlinks.html#general, and http - //www.utc.edu/~jcraddoc/Chestnutlinks.html
American Chestnut Choices
Dunstan Hybrid Chestnut is an exciting Chestnut that is the result of mixing a disease resistant American Chestnut with several strong Chinese Chestnuts. This new hybrid has good blight resistance, produces large sweet, easily peeled nuts. It has an upright form, beautiful foliage, and widely adaptable in terms of soil preferences. There are several varieties of this tree in the market.
Heritage Chestnut is a tall, vigorous tree with very American-like characteristics including a very straight timber-type bole and deeply dentate leaves. It bears light crops of medium sized sweet nuts.
Carolina Chestnut is a large tree with spreading branches, dark foliage and heavy production of large very sweet dark glossy nuts.
Willamette Chestnut is a medium-sized upright spreading tree that bears very heavy crops of extremely large sweet nuts. Revivalä Chestnut is a product of further breeding of the Dunstan Chestnut producing a tree with the very best combination of nuts and tree characteristics. The nuts from Revival are bigger and tastier than any previous Chestnuts grown in this country or imported from Europe. Check Chestnut Hill Nursery, 904-462-2820 they sell spinoffs from the Dunstan Chestnut.