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Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMON NAMES:
Chinese chestnut

 

SCIENTIFIC SYNONYMS:
Castanea bungeana Blume
Castanea formosana (Hayata) Hayata

 

CONFIRMATION STATUS: Confirmed.

 

TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name for Chinese
chestnut is Castanea mollissima Blume. At least four cultivars have
been developed for this Chinese chestnut: 1) 'Abundance', 2) 'Kuling',
3) 'Meiling', and 4)'Nanking'.

 

NATIVE STATUS: Introduced, United States.

 

GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Castanea mollissima
is a slow growing, small to medium sized, deciduous tree with low branch-
ing and a rounded crown, reaching up to 40 feet tall and 60 feet wide. It
has a rounded crown with medium texture. It generally has a spreading,
sturdy form with low branches. The bark is gray-brown to brown, strongly
ridged and furrowed. Young branches olive-brown in color, mature bark
idged and furrowed gray-brown in color. Twigs are moderately stout, tan
to olive-brown with prominent lenticels, gray fuzzy; buds are gray-brown
and pubescent, offset from leaf scar, covered with 2 to 3 overlapping scales.
The buds are 1/8" and rounded, with 2-3 scales, tan in color. Leaves are
deciduous, alternate, simple, pinnately veined (veins end in sharp pointed
teeth), oblong to linear in shape, 5 to 8 inches long, coarsely serrated (but
not as strongly toothed as American chestnut), shiny green above and paler
and fuzzy below. Leaves turn yellow to bronze in fall. The flowers are mono-
ecious - male flowers are small and white, borne in long (4 to 5 inches) slen-
der catkins, while female flowers are borne on short aments, 1/2 to 3/4 inch
long, appearing in early summer (generally June). Males flowers have a
strong odorous smell. The fruit is a large spiny (very sharp) bur 2 to 3 inch-
es in diameter, each containing 2 to 3 edible nuts (each 2" across), 1 to 1 1/
inches in diameter, shiny brown, typically flattened on 1 to 2 sides, that
ripen in late summer.

 

REGENERATION PROCESS: Chinese chestnut propogates itself by
reseeding; planted trees are often derived from cuttings.

 

SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Chinese chestnut prefers full sun and well-
drained acidic, loamy soils. It tolerants hot, dry conditions but does require
space for wide-spreading natural form.

 

SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: This introduced species that has not yet
had a significant impact on the natural environmental; successional issues
are not pertinent.

 

SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Flowers bloom in June; fruit ripens in
late summer.

 

GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: This native tree of Northern China and
Korea has a very disparate, disjunctive distribution in North America. It is
recorded as occurring in the extreme southeastern states, extending up
into the Ohio Valley, and reoccurs in southern New England. Most of the
reported occurrences are probably escaped from cultivated/ornametal
settings.

 

SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION:

 

Tree specimens can be found on trails marked in red.

 

       Bleak House
       Appalachian Trail/Old Trail
       South Ridge/North Ridge
       Gap Run
       Snowden
       Woodpecker Lane

       Sherman's Mill
       Rolling Meadows/ Lost Mountain
       Fish Pond

 

A few specimens of Chinese chestnut may occur in the higher elevations

of Sky Meadows.


HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES: As an introduced
species, it has limited influence on plant communities; appearances in
habitat types are probably fortuitous and not necessarily instructive to
general plant habits.

 

HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES: As an introduced
species, it has limited influence on plant communities; appearances in
habitat types are probably fortuitous and not necessarily instructive to
general plant habits.

 

IMPORTANCE AND USES: Chinese chestnut fruit is edible and attracts
squirrels.

 

Chinese chestnut has been used as a replacemnt ornamental for the
American chestnut.

 

 

Back to Inventory of Tree Families and Species

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