Landowner Fact Sheets

American chestnut Castanea dentata play

Far from extinct, American chestnut has a very much reduced role in forests of the eastern US. It can still be found, but the blight limits heights to small tree stature within its native range. There are large knowledge gaps in the silvical characteristics of this once abundant tree.

range map Click to see more images. fall color wood grain

Chestnut is probably closest to a gap species, and planted chestnuts perform best with full sun to light shade.

Chestnut grows on a variety of soils, especially on well-drained hillsides, but is not found on wet, poorly drained soils.


Once a very tall, well formed, massive tree reaching over 100 feet tall. The chestnut is now found mostly as stump sprouts, less than 20 feet tall. Larger stems are often deformed by blight and sprouting below cankers.

Timber Value
Chestnut wood is prized for its strength and light weight.

Wildlife Value
Historical chestnut crops were hugely important for feeding humans and livestock. This author can attest to their delicious flavor.
Attracts deer, bear, turkey, humans

Insects and Diseases

Fun Facts
Once used for items from cradles to coffins, the wood of the chestnut is easily split and worked, and is rot resistant. The edible nut was a staple to both people and animals. Today, the chestnut exists only as stump sprouts or small trees because of the accidental introduction of the chestnut blight fungus.

Latin Meaning
Castanea: after Castanea in northern Greece, Greek "kastanea" (chestnut) / dentata: refers to big teeth on leaves

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Landowner Factsheets © 2004 Virginia Tech Forestry Department, all rights reserved. Text, images, and programming by: Dr. Jeff Kirwan, Dr. John R. Seiler, John A. Peterson, Edward C. Jensen, Guy Phillips, or Andrew S. Meeks.