truffler1635 at truffler1635 at
Thu Nov 25 19:48:25 EST 1999

The following article is from The Oregonian, Nov. 25, 1999, Home &
Gardens, p 22


By Vern Nelson, in the column Hungry Gardener

	At this time of year many of us are thinking about holiday meals,
and chestnut stuffing ranks high on many of those menus.
	Chestnuts (Castanea spp.) are rounded, spreading, deciduous trees
that produce great shade and highly prized nuts. One of my favorites is
the Chinese chestnut (C. mollissima), a handsome and productive tree
that has toothed, reddish, narrow leaves with wooly undersides. Long,
yellow catkins appear in mid- to late June. Fall brings glowing yellow
and bronze foliage.
	Chestnuts grow beautifully in the Northwest. Most trees grow to be
gigantic and belong in a large yard, but some varieties suit urban-sized
	Although chestnut blight is a problem in the eastern United States,
Hunter Carlton, owner of Bear Creek Nursery in Northport, Wash., says
Northwest air is too dry to allow the spread of the blight (Endothia
parasitica). In addition, Oregon has a quarantine against chestnuts from
the East Coast.
	Large bristled burrs drop with the nuts in fall and must be raked if
you want to use the ground around the tree. Mature trees reach 30 to 80
feet tall and 25 to 80 feet wide, depending on species, variety and
growing situation.
	Chestnuts prefer a well-drained site in humusy soil with a pH of
6.5. Avoid frost pockets. The rootstock is shallow, so a 4- to 6-inch
mulch should be maintained from the drip line to within 2 inches of the
trunk. Young trees should be kept well-watered for strong, healthy
	Although these trees grow quickly, too much fertilizer can seriously
damage the root system.
	Plant at least two varieties for pollination. Place them 25 to 30
feet apart. If planting more than two trees, cut down every second one
after 10 years and allow 50 feet between them. Plant well away from
foundations and hardscapes to avoid cracking and debris.
	American chestnuts (Castanea dentata) bear the sweetest, though
smallest, nuts. Spanish (C. sativa) and Chinese (C. mollissina)
chestnuts bear less sweet but larger nuts. All produce nuts with white
meat and a crunchy, raw, hazelnutlike flavor. Hybrids such as ‘Colossal’
have sweetness, fine flavor and size.
	Chestnuts can be baked, boiled, mashed or roasted like potatoes. The
nutty flavor is an appealing match for your foavirte fowl at holiay
	Grafted trees usually will produce nuts three to five years after
planting. Seedling trees may take several years longer for nut
production and may produce inferior nuts.
	Chestnut burrs have bristles, so wear gloves when collecting nuts
from the ground and extracting the meats. Stomping nut-laden burrs first
makes harvest easier.
	Harvest nuts every day or two to prevent deterioration. Spread the
nuts in a loose, single layer on newspaper in a shaded, ventilated place
until they soften, about three to seven days. Then store them in the
refrigerator like other fresh produce.
	To prepare nuts for freezing, make a 1/2-inch cut on the flat side
of each nut and boil them for 10 minutes. Peel and pack in rigid
containers and freeze.


Bear Creek Nursery, P.O. Box 411, Northport, WA 99157; 509-732-6219;
Catalog $1 refundable

Raintree Nursery, 391 Butts Road, Morton, WA 98356; 360-496-6400; Free

Burnt Ridge Nursery, 432 Burnt Ridge Road, Onalaska, WA 98570, 360-985-
2873; Send one first-class stamp for catalog.

COMMENT FROM POSTER: Last year my sister was able to get some chestnuts
which appeared to be sprouting. By planting 5-7 seeds in a gallon pot
and putting them in a  greenhouse, she produced several seedlings which
she gave to me. I in turn gave some of them to a tree farmer near Oregon
City, who is incorporating them into his arboretum. The seedlings were
planted in partial shade under 120-150-foot tall Douglas fir, and were
outplanted in June. As far as I can tell at this time, all the seedings
survived, and are currently 1-2 feet tall. Chestnut have very large
leaves. It is unsettling to see a 12-inch leaf on a foot-tall seedling
tree. Such leaf size is common among chestnuts.

Leaves and bark contain abundant tannic acid, once a major source of
tannin for leather preservation and dyes. J. Russell Smith in Tree Crops
notes that chestnuts produce more food value each year than a similar
acreage planted in corn. Because the nuts are thin-shelled, they are
relished by a wide variety of animals including elk, deer, beer,
squirrels, turkey, pigs, horses, cows, ravens, crows, grouse, mice,
racoons and other animals. Seeds which survive uneaten are likely to
sprout if given even a little light. Chestnut often reseeds itself above
1,000 feet elevation in Oregon. The tree can live up to several thousand
years (chestnuts planted by Romans are known in Europe), and are nearly
impervious to fungal rot. Ironically, shiitake (Lentinulla edodes) grows
on Chinese chestnut, which is called the shiia tree in Japan. Shiitake
means Shiia tree mushroom.

Seedling chestnuts can be grown in Douglas fir plantations after a first
thinning. The stumps regenerate quickly, making reforestation
unnecessary once established (in Oregon). When grown as an understory
tree, it tends to become tall and leggy, with few side branches: an
ideal choice for creating shiitake bedlogs every 5-8 years.

Locally, perhaps the largest remaining American chestnut plantation is
located near Corbett, Oregon in the Columbia River Gorge. The steep
gorge sides along with 1,000 foot elevation near the top, and well-
drained soil seems nearly ideal for chestnut production.

Chestnut wood of larger diameter is in demand for repairing historic
buildings from Colonial times on the East Coast. Nearly any tree over 8
inches in diameter and 50 feet tall has timber value, although trees 80
years old and at least 3 feet in diameter are known. Chestnut can grow
as much as 8 feet per year. At least some truffle species are associated
with chestnut, and may have some economic value.

Posted as a courtesy by:
Daniel B. Wheeler

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