American Chestnut

Massive Chestnut trees in the late 19th century


American Chestnuts was once a prevalent tree in many eastern forests. Ecosystems, families, and industries thrived beneath the canopy of this tree. After succumbing to a blight brought over seas over 100 years ago, this tree was largely eradicated from our forests. It is said that over 4 billion trees died due to the fungal disease. There are very few left of them today, and it has left a massive void among culture and forest that still exists today. It is akin to if Apple trees as a whole were wiped out. There’s tons of breeding work occurring to hybridize chestnuts to achieve blight resistance. This incredible tree is valued for it’s life-giving nuts that produce on a yearly basis, it’s straight-grained rot resistant timber, and it’s fantastic ability to host a myriad of wildlife.

Interestingly enough, we see the northern climate as the potential opportunity for American Chestnuts. This is simply because northern climates are outside it’s natural range, giving less of an opportunity for the blight to proliferate. Northern climates create a safe haven for Chestnuts to live and survive as a species. This same phenomenon has occurred in Nova Scotia, where some American Chestnut trees are alive and well due to the remote nature of this province and because people decided to plant their seeds there. Chestnut trees are hardy to zone 4, and need acidic well drained soils to preform at their best. If you live in an area with poorly draining soils you can plant them on mounds to ensure proper drainage.

An amazing food resource that comes every single year with a similar nutritional profile to brown rice.
Latin name Castanea dentata
Hardiness Zone 4
Height 75-100 ft
Spread30 ft
Sun RequirementsFull sun-part shade
Average year to bear fruit10
Harvest Timefall
Soil prefers sandy well drained soil with an acidic pH
Flower Time June-July
Pollination self sterile. Needs cross pollination to fruit.