Castanea mollissima, Chinese Chestnut
Zone
  5a/4
Pollination
  self-sterile (monoecious) spp
Blooms
  very late, but terminal buds are still susceptible to frost damage spp
Ripens
  4.5 - 6 months spp
pH
  5.5 to 6.5 is preferred. up to 7 may be acceptable for some. a slightly higher pH will often be intolerable. spp

Chinese chestnuts are native to East Asia.  The exact region of origin is unknown, but it has been cultivated throughout most of China as well as Korea and Taiwan.  They should be able tolerate a wide range of climates, provided they aren't too extreme on one end or another.  

C. mollissima produces the smallest trees when compared to the other cultivated chestnut species.   They can range from 40 to 60 feet in height at maturity, and they grow in a spreading form.




Castanea sativa, European Chestnut
Zone
  5b
Pollination
  self-sterile (monoecious) spp
Blooms
  very late, but terminal buds are still susceptible to frost damage spp
Ripens
  4.5 - 6 months spp
pH
  5.5 to 6.5 is preferred. up to 7 is often acceptable. a higher pH can become intolerable.

European chestnuts are native to Southern Europe, northern Turkey, and Caucasia.  Most of the area experiences dry mediterranean summers, while the Caucasian region receives up to 2" of rainfall per month.




Castanea crenata, Japanese Chestnut
Zone
  5b
Pollination
  self-sterile (monoecious) spp
Blooms
  very late, but terminal buds are still susceptible to frost damage spp
Ripens
  4.5 - 6 months spp
pH
  5.5 to 6.5 is preferred. up to 7 may be acceptable for some. a slightly higher pH will often be intolerable. spp

Japanese chestnuts are native to Japan and South Korea.  Much of the region receives 3" to 6" of rainfall per month during spring and summer, but a significant area can experience around 10" of rainfall or more for a few months.




Castanea dentata, American Chestnut
Zone
  4a
Pollination
  self-sterile (monoecious) spp
Blooms
  very late, but terminal buds are still susceptible to frost damage spp
Ripens
  4.5 - 6 months spp
pH
  5.5 to 6.5 is preferred. up to 7 may be acceptable for some. a slightly higher pH will often be intolerable. spp

American chestnuts are native to the Appalachian region of the United States.  The area receives an average of 3" to 4" of rainfall per month.  

American chestnuts dominated the Appalachian region until an Asian chestnut blight made its way to North America in the early 1900's.  Over 3 billion trees were destroyed within a few decades, and only a handful had survived.  Some now believe phytopthora root rot also played a fairly significant role in the destruction of the American chestnut.

American chestnuts are unlike the other chestnut species in that they grow very fast in a columnar/timber form.   They can be as tall as 100 feet at maturity.




Castanea spp, chestnut
  (additional notes)
Chinese chestnuts, and various hybrids, are highly resistant to chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica).  Japanese chestnuts are somewhat resistant and European chestnuts are somewhat susceptible.   American chestnuts are highly susceptible, although decades of backcrossing, along with the mollissima gene responsible for blight resistance, has created highly resistant trees that are over 97% American.   Those that aren't resistant to blight are best grown in a dry climate, however, the soil pH in such regions are often too high for chestnuts to survive.   Certain oak species, such as Quercus trojana and Quercus coccifera, have been used as a rootstock for alkaline soils with some success.

Chestnuts tolerate dry conditions fairly well, but water stress will reduce nut size and yield.   They will not tolerate clay or poorly drained soils.   Excessively wet soils will also encourage phytopthora root rot (Phytophthora cinnamomi) on European and American trees.   Chinese and Japanese chestnuts are resistant to root rot.

Delayed graft failure (as well as immediate failure) can be a problem, but it may take quite a few years to occur.   In addition, graft failure appears to be amplified near their hardiness zone limit.  Transplant shock can also cause graft failure (they are best planted in the spring).   Intraspecific grafting has the highest success rate, while grafting hybrids has a lower success rate than grafting two different, non-hybridized species together.   Using seedlings from the variety you wish to graft as a rootstock increases compatibility.

Many nurseries no longer sell grafted chestnut trees.   They generally sell seedlings from high quality Chinese varieties since they, too, often produce high quality nuts.   Seedlings from Japanese x European hybrids are sometimes sold as well, but their nut quality is more variable.

Pollen production begins very late in the season, roughly 2 months or more after bud break.   The flowers become receptive a few days later and they last for one or two weeks.  Pollen from a tree that produces larger nuts may increase the nut size of the tree that is being pollinated (metaxenia).  This is not typical for fruits and nuts.

Non-dormant terminal buds are vulnerable to frost damage.   This is probably more true for European and Japanese chestnuts.   Chinese chestnuts are occasionally damaged, but they appear to avoid frost well enough that a few orchards are grown in states like Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, and northern Florida.   It is "implied" that their buds are most vulnerable around late peach bloom, but this may not be the most accurate comparison.   American chestnuts should be the most resistant since they evolved in a climate with fairly wild temperature swings in the spring.

Chestnuts are unlike other nuts in that they are low in protein (2-5% vs 9-24%) and fat (1-2% vs 45-70%).   They are also high in carbs, very high in water content, and are the only nut with a significant amount of vitamin C (25 to 40mg/100g).   These qualities cause them to have a fairly short shelf-life if they are not dried or refrigerated properly.   American chestnuts have the highest protein content and may have a similar fat content as well.   Chinese chestnuts have a little less protein and a low amount of fat.   European and Japanese chestnuts can be quite low in both fat and protein.   They are, however, higher in water content, so the nutritional values of their dried counterparts are closer, yet still inferior, to American chestnuts.

Chestnut sizes will vary, sometimes greatly, by region and year.   Examples are given so you'll know whether you should expect something on the larger or smaller side on a good year.



Read More

Hybrid Chestnut
Castanea spp

Belle Epine

C. crenata x C. sativa.  Originated in France.
Zone
:
6a
Ripens
🍏:
late   :   one of the last to drop

Fruit Size
:
22 nuts/pound
Afflictions
:
Resistant to phytopthora root rot.  
Somewhat susceptible to chestnut blight.
Belle Epine's nuts fall in the burr, protecting them from wildlife.

Bergantz

Colossal x C. crenata
Zone
:
5b?
Fruit Size
:
very large, easy to peel
Afflictions
:
Somewhat susceptible to chestnut blight?

Big Euro

C. sativa x C. mollissima.  Originated in California.
Zone
:
5a
Ripens
🍏:
mid-late

Fruit Size
:
24 nuts/pound, easy to peel
Afflictions
:
should be at least somewhat resistant to chestnut blight.

Bisalta 2

C. sativa x C. crenata.  Originated in Italy.
Zone
:
5b
Blooms
💮:
  .......   :   poor pollen production
Ripens
🍏:
mid   :   precocious

Fruit Size
:
20-26 nuts/pound, easy to peel
Afflictions
:
Resistant to phytopthora root rot.  
Somewhat susceptible to chestnut blight.

Bisalta 3

C. sativa x C. crenata.  Originated in Italy.
Zone
:
5b
Ripens
🍏:
mid   :   does well in cool summer climates.
somewhat precocious.

Fruit Size
:
24-30 nuts/pound, easy to peel
Yield
:
may overproduce, reducing nut size
Storage
:
stores well
Afflictions
:
Resistant to phytopthora root rot.  
Somewhat susceptible to chestnut blight.
Bisalta 3 is more tolerant of wet springs than most other chestnut varieties.

Bouche De Betizac

Bouche Rouge (C. sativa) x C. crenata.  Originated in France.
Zone
:
4a? (5b)
Blooms
💮:
  .......   :   terminal buds may have some resistance to frost damage.
pollen sterile
Ripens
🍏:
mid (mid-late)   :   does well in cool summer climates.

Tree Size
:
timber form with vigorous growth?
Fruit Size
:
16-30 nuts/pound, easy to peel
Yield
:
may overproduce, reducing nut size
Storage
:
stores well
Afflictions
:
Resistant to phytopthora root rot.   Resistant to gall wasp and leaf anthracnose?
Somewhat susceptible to chestnut blight.

Colossal

C. sativa x C. crenata.  Developed in California over 100 years ago.
Zone
:
5a? (4)   :   may be able to survive -28F
Blooms
💮:
  .......   :   pollen sterile
Ripens
🍏:
mid   :   early October in SW Michigan and probably W Washington as well (their ripening dates seem to align fairly well, but comparisons are limited).
precocious

Fruit Size
:
12-24 nuts/pound, hard to peel
Yield
:
may overproduce, reducing nut size
Afflictions
:
Somewhat susceptible to chestnut blight.
Colossal suffers from Internal Kernel Breakdown (up to 35%) when pollinated by Benton Harbor.

Eaton

C. mollissima x (C. crenata x C. dentata)
Ripens
🍏:
mid?   :   late September in central Missouri
Fruit Size
:
32-35 nuts/pound
Storage
:
stores well
Afflictions
:
Resistant to chestnut blight.

Gillet

Colossal x C. crenata?
Zone
:
4a
Ripens
🍏:
mid-late (late)

Fruit Size
:
12 nuts/pound, easy to peel
Afflictions
:
Somewhat susceptible to chestnut blight.

Layeroka

Skioka (C. mollissima x C. sativa) x open pollination
Zone
:
4
Blooms
💮:
  .......   :   pollen sterile
Ripens
🍏:
mid?   :   precocious

Tree Size
:
timber form with vigorous growth
Afflictions
:
Somewhat resistant to chestnut blight?

Luvall's Monster

C. mollissima x C. crenata x C. dentata
Zone
:
4a (3)
Blooms
💮:
  .......   :   pollen sterile
Ripens
🍏:
early-mid   :   precocious

Tree Size
:
upright growth
Fruit Size
:
moderate to very large, easy to peel
Afflictions
:
At least somewhat resistant to chestnut blight.  
Somewhat susceptible to splitting.

Maraval

C. sativa x C. crenata.  Originated in France.
Zone
:
5b (4a)
Blooms
💮:
  .......   :   produces an immense amount of pollen.
Ripens
🍏:
mid-late

Fruit Size
:
18-22 nuts/pound, hard to peel
Storage
:
stores well
Afflictions
:
Resistant to chestnut blight and phytopthora root rot.

Marigoule

C. sativa x C. crenata.  Originated in France.
Zone
:
4a
Ripens
🍏:
mid   :   somewhat precocious

Tree Size
:
upright growth
Fruit Size
:
24-30 nuts/pound, easy to peel
Storage
:
stores well
Afflictions
:
Resistant to phytopthora root rot.   At least somewhat resistant to chestnut blight.
Marigoule's nuts fall in the burr.

Marissard

C. sativa x C. crenata.  Originated in Italy.
Zone
:
6a (5b)
Blooms
💮:
  .......   :   pollen sterile
Ripens
🍏:
late

Fruit Size
:
10-24 nuts/pound, easy to peel
Afflictions
:
Resistant to phytopthora root rot.   Somewhat resistant to chestnut blight?

Marsol

C. sativa x C. crenata.  Originated in France.
Zone
:
5b (4a)
Blooms
💮:
  .......   :   buds open early, more likely to be damaged by frost
Ripens
🍏:
mid? (mid-late)

Fruit Size
:
22-28 nuts/pound, easy to peel
Afflictions
:
Resistant to phytopthora root rot.   At least somewhat resistant to chestnut blight.

Nevada

C. sativa x C. crenata
Blooms
💮:
  .......   :   frost sensitive buds
Ripens
🍏:
mid-late (late)   :   roughly 3 weeks after Colossal
Nevada may produce poor quality nuts in the East.

Okei

Silverleaf x open pollination? Contradicting reports: some say European, others say Japanese or a Japanese x pumila hybrid.  Developed in California.
Zone
:
5b
Ripens
🍏:
mid-late   :   2 weeks after Colossal.
nuts may struggle to fill in cool summer climates.

Fruit Size
:
16-26 nuts/pound, easy to peel
Yield
:
below average productivity
Afflictions
:
Susceptible to splitting.
Okei may produce poor quality nuts in the East.

Precoce Migoule

C. sativa x C. crenata.  Originated in France.
Ripens
🍏:
early-mid   :   does well in cool summer climates.
Tree Size
:
timber form with vigorous growth?
Fruit Size
:
24-32 nuts/pound, peels ok
Yield
:
may overproduce, reducing nut size
Storage
:
stores well
Afflictions
:
At least somewhat resistant to phytopthora root rot.  
Somewhat susceptible to chestnut blight.
Precoce Migoule produces inferior nuts to Marigoule.

Regina Montis

C. sativa x C. crenata.  Developed in Washington.
Zone
:
5b
Ripens
🍏:
mid-late?   :   precocious
Fruit Size
:
22 nuts/pound, easy to peel

Revival

C. mollissima x C. dentata?
Ripens
🍏:
mid-late
Revival is considered to be the best selection from the Dunstan chestnut seedlings, but it often suffer from delayed graft failure.

Schlarbaum

C. mollissima x C. sativa
Zone
:
4b
Ripens
🍏:
mid-late

Fruit Size
:
22 nuts/pound, easy to peel
Afflictions
:
At least Somewhat resistant to chestnut blight.

Skookum

Zone
:
5
Blooms
💮:
  .......   :   pollen sterile

Tree Size
:
timber form with vigorous growth
Fruit Size
:
hard to peel
Afflictions
:
At least somewhat susceptible to chestnut blight.

Sleeping Giant

C. mollissima x (C. dentata x C. crenata)
Ripens
🍏:
mid?   :   late September in central Missouri
Tree Size
:
timber form
Fruit Size
:
28-35 nuts/pound
Afflictions
:
Resistant to chestnut blight.

Szego

C. sativa x C. mollissima x C. crenata.  Originated in California.
Zone
:
4b
Ripens
🍏:
mid-late

Fruit Size
:
22 nuts/pound, easy to peel
Yield
:
moderately productive
Afflictions
:
At least somewhat resistant to chestnut blight.

Torakuri

Colossal x C. crenata
Zone
:
5b?
Ripens
🍏:
mid-late? (late)

Fruit Size
:
15 nuts/pound, easy to peel
Afflictions
:
Somewhat susceptible to chestnut blight.

Chinese Chestnut
Castanea mollissima

AU Homestead

Developed in Alabama.
Ripens
🍏:
mid
Fruit Size
:
27-35 nuts/pound
Yield
:
moderately productive
Afflictions
:
Resistant to chestnut blight and phytopthora root rot.
wind storms may cause large burrs to drop early

Benton Harbor

Selected in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
Zone
:
5a
Blooms
💮:
  .......   :   early July in Michigan
Ripens
🍏:
  .......   :   somewhat precocious

Fruit Size
:
34-38 nuts/pound, easy to peel
Afflictions
:
Resistant to chestnut blight and phytopthora root rot.
Do not use Benton Harbor as a pollinator for Colossal as it has some sort of incompatibility that causes up to 35% of Colossal's nuts to decay before they finish ripening (Internal Kernel Breakdown).

Benton Harbor's nuts may drop with the burr.

Everfresh

Zone
:
5a
Blooms
💮:
  .......   :   early July in Michigan.
buds resisted frost damage in SW Michigan 2010 where most Chinese chestnut varieties received damage.
It has never received frost damage in the 15 years it has been there (2000-2015), although the climate is tamed by the Great Lake in comparison to much of the US.
Ripens
🍏:
mid-late?   :   after Colossal

Fruit Size
:
36-40 nuts/pound, easy to peel
Storage
:
long shelf life (roughly 1 year or more is implied when stored properly).
Afflictions
:
Resistant to chestnut blight and phytopthora root rot.

Gideon

Developed in Ohio.
Zone
:
5a (4)   :   supposedly more cold hardy than most other Chinese chestnuts.
Ripens
🍏:
mid? (mid-late)   :   a few days after Peach and Qing.

Fruit Size
:
28-38 nuts/pound, easy to peel
Afflictions
:
Resistant to chestnut blight and phytopthora root rot.

Jenny

Zone
:
4
Ripens
🍏:
mid? (early-mid)

Tree Size
:
grows taller and more vigorously than most non-hybridized Chinese chestnuts.
Fruit Size
:
some of the largest non-hybridized Chinese chestnuts.
Afflictions
:
Resistant to chestnut blight and phytopthora root rot.

Mossbarger

Developed in Kentucky (1983).
Zone
:
4b (3)
Fruit Size
:
hard to peel?
Afflictions
:
Resistant to chestnut blight and phytopthora root rot.

Peach

Selected in Carrollton, Ohio.
Zone
:
5a
Ripens
🍏:
mid? (mid-late)   :   after Colossal.
early October in Missouri.

Fruit Size
:
23-38 nuts/pound
Afflictions
:
Resistant to chestnut blight and phytopthora root rot.  
Susceptible to splitting.
Terminal buds on the Peach chestnut are quite susceptible to frost damage in the Midwest, including SW MI where spring temperatures are more stable from the Great Lake.

Qing

Zone
:
4 (3)
Ripens
🍏:
mid? (mid-late)   :   after Colossal.
early October in Missouri.

Fruit Size
:
21-35 nuts/pound
Yield
:
may overproduce, reducing nut size
Storage
:
stores well
Afflictions
:
Resistant to chestnut blight and phytopthora root rot.
Qing is very susceptible to delayed graft failure, even on mollissima rootstock.

European Chestnut
Castanea sativa

Bracalla

Originated in Italy.
Zone
:
5b
Ripens
🍏:
mid?   :   does well in cool summer climates.
Afflictions
:
Susceptible to phytopthora root rot.   Somewhat susceptible to chestnut blight.

Marron Di Comballe

Originated in France.
Zone
:
5b
Blooms
💮:
  .......   :   pollen sterile
Ripens
🍏:
  .......   :   does well in cool summer climates.

Fruit Size
:
24-32 nuts/pound, easy to peel
Afflictions
:
Susceptible to phytopthora root rot.   Somewhat susceptible to chestnut blight.

Marrone Di Marradi

Originated in Italy.
Zone
:
5b
Ripens
🍏:
mid-late   :   mid to late October in W Washington

Fruit Size
:
22-26 nuts/pound, easy to peel
Yield
:
less productive than sativa x crenata hybrids
Afflictions
:
Susceptible to phytopthora root rot.   Somewhat susceptible to chestnut blight.

Marrone Di Susa

Originated in Italy.
Zone
:
5b
Blooms
💮:
  .......   :   pollen sterile
Ripens
🍏:
late

Fruit Size
:
22-26 nuts/pound, easy to peel
Storage
:
stores well
Afflictions
:
Susceptible to phytopthora root rot.   Somewhat susceptible to chestnut blight.
Marrone di Susa's nuts fall in the burr.

Japanese Chestnut
Castanea crenata

Labor Day

at least partially C. crenata.  Selected in Perry, Michigan.
Zone
:
5b
Blooms
💮:
  .......   :   sheds pollen for 3 weeks
Ripens
🍏:
early-mid (early)   :   2nd or 3rd week of September in SW Michigan

Tree Size
:
grows more like a Chinese chestnut (slower than the other species)
Fruit Size
:
32-40 nuts/pound, easy to peel
Yield
:
less productive than sativa x crenata hybrids
Afflictions
:
Resistant to chestnut blight and phytopthora root rot.

Yoo Ma

C. crenata.  Originated in Korea.
Zone
:
5b
Ripens
🍏:
early-mid   :   precocious (2nd or 3rd leaf).
does well in cool summers.

Tree Size
:
grows quite slow for a chestnut
Afflictions
:
Resistant to chestnut blight and phytopthora root rot.