WELCOME! I'm glad you decided to stop by! This site is dedicated to the legacy of the American Chestnut tree, which are ecologically extinct in present day. It is designed to give you a taste of Castanea dentata and quite possibly a little knowledge, too. Oh, and if I were you, I'd choose roasted...
Castanea dentata was the most abundant large tree in the Eastern United States' forests at the beginning of the 20th century, comprising what is estimated to be about twenty-five percent of all hardwoods. On optimal sites, the fast-growing species was capable of reaching heights of over 100 feet with a trunk diameter of up to six feet. However, a devastating fungus pathogen virtually wiped out the species by 1950, to what some ecologists termed "the greatest botanical disaster in history." Therefore, what once was one of the dominant canopy trees in Eastern forests, now exist mainly as a shrub or small tree.
Below is the breakdown of tree components utilized for identification of the American chestnut tree. Although the species is not as prosperous as it was a century ago, some areas are still fortunate enough to experience these mature specimens.
Alternate, simple, oblong to lanceolate
5-8 inches long
Sharply and coarsely serrated, each serration bears a bristle tip
Shiny yellow-green above and paler below; changes to rich yellow in autumn
Both sides hairless
Somewhat resemble the American beech, but thicker and more leathery texture
Male flowers: whitish or yellow-green, stand on upright, found tightly occurring along 6-8 inch catkins
Female flowers: whitish or yellow-green, occupy short catkins, found near base of catkins (near twig)
Appear in late spring to early summer
Large, round spiny husk (very sharp), ½ inch long spines, 2-2½ inch in diameter, encloses 2-3 nuts
Chestnuts shiny dark brown
Flattened on one side, pointed at one end
Fruit (nut) ½ to 1 inch in diameter
Ripens in early fall: rich, sweet taste
Young: smooth and green
Older: develop deep fissures divided by flat-topped ridges covered with dark brown scales
Chestnut blight infested bark is sunken and split, often with orange fungal fruiting bodies
Thick bark helps to insulate cambium from groundfires, which are not uncommon on the dry sites where it often colonizes
Continue on to the phylogeny of Castanea dentata...don't worry, Latin is quite easy to understand.
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