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Chinese Chinquapin Castanea henryi

Previously known as:

  • Castanea fargesii
  • Castanopsis henryi
Phonetic Spelling
kas-TAY-nee-uh HEN-ree-eye
Description

Castanea is derived from the Greek word for the European chestnut tree, while henri honors Dr. Augustine Henry, an Irish physician.  Fluent in Chinese, part of his job included the collection of medicinal plant collecting.  The common names include chinquapin, which roughly translates to 'large fruit'.

They were brought to the US from Asia in 1935 by Cason J. Callaway of Callaway Garden in Hamilton, Georgia as part of the USDA's plant exploration and importation program.  Many of the varieties of chestnuts brought were affected by the Asian chestnut gall wasp. The one exception was the variety Castanea henryi, which did not appear to be affected by this disease.   It has since been used to cross-breed to produce better timber and also nut-producing trees.  

Its native habitat includes mountain slopes in mixed forests.  Its best performance will be in locations with cold winters and hot summers.  Without these variations, the tree will grow poorly and the wood may not ripen properly.  It can also suffer from frost damage.

The fragrant flowers bloom in the summer on new growth.  They are followed by spiny green chestnut burrs that remain on the tree until the fall, when they will fall to the ground and open.  The sweet chestnuts are then released to be enjoyed by both humans and wildlife such as squirrels and deer.  Any that do not get eaten can germinate.  

Its fruits can be eaten both raw or cooked.  Raw fruits have a bitter taste.  After baking the seeds, they have a sweeter taste and have a texture similar to flour.  

A large tree reaching up to 90 feet tall with its trunk diameter of up to 9 foot.  It prefers well-drained acidic loamy soil but can be grown in nutritionally poor.  It tolerates hot southern summers well.  It is very resistant to endothia blight and honey fungus.  

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Minor issues with aphids, white flies, phylloxerans and leaf hoppers.  Chestnut blight is also a minor issue.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#fragrant#deciduous#fragrant flowers#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#food source wildlife#edible fruits#poor soils tolerant#deciduous tree#dry soils tolerant#self-fertile#tree
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#fragrant#deciduous#fragrant flowers#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#food source wildlife#edible fruits#poor soils tolerant#deciduous tree#dry soils tolerant#self-fertile#tree
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Castanea
    Species:
    henryi
    Family:
    Fagaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The bark, leaves and timber are used in wood products.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    China, south-central and southeast
    Wildlife Value:
    Deer and squirrels eat the chestnuts.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Edible fruit
    Fragrance
    Screening
    Sound
    Wildlife Food Source
    Edibility:
    Seeds raw or cooked but are sweeter and more floury texture when cooked. Can be used like potatoes as a staple food.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
    Appendage:
    Spines
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Seeds ripen in October. They may be solitary or two or three on a short spike.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Description:
    Flowers in July are produced on current-year wood pollinated by insects and are also self-fertile.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Rough
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblanceolate
    Oblong
    Obovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaf blades are lanceolate, oblong-ovate, or oblong-laceolate covered with yellow-brown scaly glands, and a few appressed hairs on the underside of the primary and secondary veins.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Young shoots are dark-colored.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Edible Garden
    Design Feature:
    Understory Tree
    Attracts:
    Small Mammals
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Heat
    Poor Soil