American chestnut

Silhouette - American chestnut
  • Latin name: Castanea dentata (Marsh.) Borkh.
  • French name: Châtaignier d'Amérique
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 19454
Description

Leaves

  • Leaf with detail of bristle-tipped teeth - American chestnut

Form

  • Deciduous, alternate, simple
  • Gradually tapering to both ends
  • Veins straight, parallel
  • 15–20 per side

Length

  • 15–28 cm

Colour

  • Yellowish-green

Margin

  • Teeth prominent, bristle-tipped

Petiole

  • Short

Buds

  • Lateral bud and leaf scar - American chestnut

Form

  • Ovoid, pointed
  • 2 or 3 hairless scales
  • End bud similar to lateral buds
  • Leaf scars semi-oval, somewhat raised, with numerous vein scars

Twigs

  • Twig cross section - American chestnut
  • Winter twig - American chestnut

Form

  • Stout, shiny, numerous lenticels
  • Pith 5-pointed

Colour

  • Lenticels pale

Flowers

Form

  • Pollen flowers on short stalks in semi-erect catkins
  • Seed flowers solitary, or in clusters of 2 or 3, at the base of pollen catkins

Length

  • Stalks 12–20 cm

Structure

  • Monoecious

Floral timing

  • After leaves are almost fully grown

Fruits

  • Fruit husk (left); nut (right) - American chestnut

Form

  • Edible nut
  • In small clusters of 1–5 within a spiny bur-like husk that splits into 4 parts
  • Nut ovoid, flat on 1 side
  • Pointed, dull, smooth

Width

  • Husk 5–8 cm

Colour

  • Nut brownish

Seedlings

Form

  • Cotyledons fleshy
  • Remain in the seed coat under the surface

Colour

  • Cotyledons white

Bark

Form

  • Smooth, with age separating into broad flat-topped ridges

Colour

  • Dark brown

Wood

Texture

  • Moderately hard and strong
  • Very decay-resistant

Colour

  • Reddish-brown

Morphology

  • Oak-like grain in tangential face, straight-grained
  • Ring-porous, large pores visible
  • Annual rings prominent; rays very small

Size

Height

  • Seldom to 10 m

Diameter

  • A few exceed 50 cm in Ontario

Habitat

Site

  • Well-drained sands and gravels

Associated species

  • Usually mixed with other broadleaf trees

COSEWIC Status

Endangered

Photos
  • American chestnut
  • American chestnut
  • American chestnut
  • American chestnut
  • American chestnut
  • American chestnut
  • American chestnut
Distribution map
Distribution map - American chestnut
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