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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):


Family (Botanic):


Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks,
  • City parkway,
  • Wide median

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

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


  • Dry sites,
  • Alkaline 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

Seasons of Interest:

  • midsummer,
  • late summer,
  • early fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Broad

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate

Transplants Well:

  • No


  • 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.



Location of Castanea mollissima (Chinese chestnut) at the Arboretum