Trees of Alabama and the Southeast

Lisa Samuelson, Ph.D.
School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
Auburn University

AMERICAN CHESTNUT
Castanea dentata
Fagaceae

Leaves are simple, alternate, and deciduous with coarsely toothed margins and teeth curving upward toward the leaf apex. Twigs are smooth, zigzag, and shiny chestnut brown with chestnut brown buds. Bark is gray-brown and smooth on young trees. Fruit is a brown, edible nut enclosed in a spiny bur and was a major animal food source before the blight. American chestnut occurs in the understory as a sprout to small tree on a variety of well-drained sites in the eastern U.S. Form was once a large tree up to 30 m (100 ft) in height but, because of chestnut blight, now only sprouts or small trees up to about 9 m (30 ft) tall are usually found. Shade tolerant.

Photographs by Mike Hogan.

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