Castanea mollissima-Chinese, C. sativa-European and C. dentata-American
Chestnuts are majestic trees which live hundreds of years and each can produce hundreds of pounds of nuts each year. If you live east of the Rockies you need to plant our blight resistant Chinese Chestnut seedlings or blight resistant cultivars. Many of our grafted cultivars are recommended west of the Rockies where chestnut blight is usually not a problem. Please read the pollination and soil sections below for more important information.
Raintree is offering outstanding hardy grafted varieties. and also seedlings.
Pollination: Two varieties, two seedlings or one of each must be planted to insure pollination. Different chestnut species will readily cross with one another. If you lack room you can plant two in the same hole and have a multi-trunk tree. Some of the cultivars we offer are pollen sterile. They won't pollinize your pollinizer tree. This means if you plant a pollen sterile tree you will need a third pollinizer variety or seedling so your pollinizer trees will have nuts.
Hardiness: To -20 F.
Full sun: for nut production.
Plant spacing: 40 ft. or more for maximum long term nut production. Interplanting at 20 foot spacing will greatly increase nut production over the first 20 years. Interplants will eventually need to be removed.
Harvest time: October-November.
Life expectancy: A tree on the slopes of Mt. Etna in Sicily had a branch spread over 200 feet wide and was in excess of 2500 years old.
Bearing age: Grafted trees will generally commence bearing in 2 to 3 years, seedlings in 5 to 7 years.
How to Grow
Soil requirements: Chestnuts will grow in most soils, but they don’t like wet feet. Chestnut trees will tolerate acid soils, and are fairly drought resistant once established.They can not take water logged soils once they have started growing in the spring.
Cultural requirements: While not as demanding as most nut trees, they benefit from a fertilization in the spring.
Pests and diseases: Borers can be a problem for grafted trees. The Northwest has escaped chestnut blight due to isolation. Also, our typical weather patterns are not as conducive to the spread of fungal spores as is the East Coast. Because of the blight only plant Chinese chestnuts in the east and midwest.
How to Use
In the landscape: A beautiful spreading tree for the landscape. Chinese chestnuts compare in size to a very large apple tree, whereas European and American chestnuts eventually get quite massive. Chestnuts have glossy, dark green serrated leaves and long, creamy yellow catkins that appear early in the summer. Also a great dual purpose food and timber tree. Chestnut wood is extremely durable and rot resistant and possesses this quality as a young tree, unlike cedar. Chestnut resprouts quite vigorously after cutting, suiting it quite well to coppice management for rot resistant pole production. Coppicing means to cut down an established tree thus allowing the suckers to regrow. The sucker sprouts will regrow again and again allowing for a continuous harvest of both nuts and wood.
In the kitchen: Chestnuts contain approximately 5% oil and 7% protein, along with a rich supply of carbohydrates, giving them a food value roughly equivalent to potatoes. In some parts of the world chestnuts are dried and ground into a flour for use in baking. They are among the sweetest of nuts and are a wonderful snack all by themselves when roasted. Chestnuts compliment vegetables, and are famous in turkey stuffing.