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TREES & plants

Chinese chestnut

Mature specimen of Chinese chestnut.

Chinese chestnut is resistant to chestnut blight which has almost wiped out the American chestnut. This non-native species produces spikes of creamy white flowers in summer. The edible nuts develop in sharp, spiny husks.

Botanical name: 
Castanea mollissima
All Common Names: 
Chinese chestnut
Family (English): 
Beech
Family (Botanic): 
Fagaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks, 
  • City parkway, 
  • Wide median
Landscape Uses: 
  • Parkway/street, 
  • Shade tree, 
  • Specimen
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)
Mature Height: 
40-60 feet
Mature Width: 
40-60 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4, 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7, 
  • Zone 8, 
  • Zone 9
Soil Preference: 
  • Acid soil, 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Prefers
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Intolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Intolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Tolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Intolerant
Planting Considerations: 
  • May be difficult to find in nurseries, 
  • Messy fruit/plant parts
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Summer blossoms, 
  • Fall color, 
  • Edible fruit
Season of Interest: 
  • Mid summer, 
  • Late summer, 
  • Early fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • White
Shape or Form: 
  • Broad
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate
Transplants Well: 
  • No
Wildlife: 
  • Small mammals
More Information: 

Tree & Plant Care

Best in full sun.  Tolerant of heat and drought.  Prefers acidic soil.

Disease, pests, and problems

Twig cankers are possible.  The sharp, spiny husks surrounding the nuts can be hard to handle.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Resistant to chestnut blight.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to China and Korea.

Bark color and texture 

Bark is gray-brown and ridged and furrowed.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Leaves elongated, alternate and simple, with coarsely toothed margins.  Each tooth ends in a bristle tip.
Leaves  dark green in summer.  Fall color is yellow to yellow brown.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Small white, male flowers on a pencil-thin spike (6 inches long).
Female flowers also small and white, in clusters near the base of the male flower spike.
Trees flower in July.  The flowers have a musty odor.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Edible nuts in a husk covered with numerous sharp spines.

 

 

Castanea mollissima or Chinese chestnut