American Chestnut

Ron Wenrich woodtick at
Wed Apr 29 18:50:17 EST 1998

JimiFromMI wrote:

> Someone a while back posted information on disese resistant American Elms.
> Besides "street-side" beauty, what features do these trees have to offer
> (firewood, lumber, wildlife, etc.)?
> American Chestnuts were similarly wiped out by disese.  Are there disese
> resistant strains of American Chestnuts available?  Would this tree be suitable
> in Zone 5?  I may be interested in starting a small plantation, but would like
> to have some hope for success.  I wouldn't mind container-growing them for a
> few years if it would help in establishment.
> Any ideas?

Check out the American Chestnut Foundation.

They have American Chestnuts seed kits for $50, but you have to be a member of the
ACF, which is another $40.  Unfortunately, you have to apply for seed kits by April
1 for the 1998 planting season.

The ACF is trying to develop a resistant strain of the American chestnut by
breeding it with the Chinese chestnut.  They expect to have seeds available, which
should be disease resistant, in another 10 years.  The hybrid will be 15/16
American chestnut and 1/16 Chinese chestnut.  Sounds like something where genetic
engineering could be helpful.  Much more helpful than cloning sheep.

I thought there was still some chestnut on the UP of Michigan which were isolated
from the blight.  I have seen seed bearing chestnuts in PA.  The local ones were
about 12-14" and were never marked for cutting.  I did work for a electric utility
which had one growing on their R/W which was about 20", but some thoughtful logger
cut it down when the R/W was put in.  To the utility's credit, they located their
line outside the growing area of the chestnut.  So, there must be some resistant
chestnut out there.


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