My Colby-Sawyer Experience

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Desktop Technology Specialist David Levine

American Chestnut Castanea dentata
Beech Fagaceae family


Leaves are long, narrow, and coarsely-toothed. They look similar to beech leaves, but they are narrower and the teeth are further apart. 4 - 8" long.

Flowers Chestnut flowers are a long, thin, white raceme that appears on top of the leaves in July.

Fruits are nuts, flattened on 1 or more sides, enclosed in a spiny tan - light brown round husk. They fall in September or October, and are edible.

Bark is shiny and smooth as young bark, and gets ridged with shiny top ridges as it matures. Most chestnuts found these days are young stump sprouts.


Form/Habitat: The American Chestnut is a tragic story. At the settlement period it was a dominant tree of dry forests in our region. These trees were prized for their straight, tight-grained, rot-resistant lumber. Many were over 100' tall, and in excess of 3' in diameter. Soon after 1900, however, a fungus bark disease, believed to be of Asiatic origin, escaped, and within a human generation this magnificent tree was virtually wiped out. Today's survivors are few, and there are efforts underway to attempt restoration. Click here to learn about the American Chestnut Cooperator's Foundation research and resoration program.

Winter Identification: Look for cracked, diseased bark on young trees.

NWI Status: N/A



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