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Chinese Chestnut Castanea mollissima

Phonetic Spelling
kas-TAY-nee-uh maw-LISS-ih-muh
Description

Chinese chestnut is a medium size deciduous flowering tree that is a native of China and, in its natural habitat, often found in woods, forests, and mountain slopes from sea level to 9000 feet. This tree can reach a height and spread of about 40 feet, with a symmetrical and round crown. It branches close to the ground, which makes it a good landscape tree. The smell of the flower might be offensive to some people. The nut is edible, attracts wild life, but use caution when handling it because it is spiny. The tree is resistant to chestnut blight. Chinese chestnut will make a good shade tree in the landscape and has interesting fall color.

The genus name comes from the town of Castania in Thessaly where the trees reportedly grew in abundance. The specific epithet comes from the Latin word for soft, in reference to the pubescent twigs and leaf undersides.

Chinese chestnut prefers full sun to partial shade and moist well drained soil It will grow in clay, sandy soils, loam, and even tolerates nutritionally poor soils. It will do well in neutral and mildly acidic conditions and tolerates occasional drought, hot summers, and humidity. If you are growing this tree for its edible nuts, planting more than one tree will facilitate cross-pollination and produce a more abundant nut crop. However, falling chestnuts can pose a litter problem.

Diseases, Insect Pests, and Other Plant Problems:

No known diseases or insect pests. It is resistant to chestnut blight, which has nearly wiped out the native American chestnut.

VIDEO Created by Laura Barth for "Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Nuts", a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

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See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • Castanea mollissima 'Abundance'
  • Castanea mollissima 'Crane'
  • Castanea mollissima 'Kuling'
  • Castanea mollissima 'Meiling'
  • Castanea mollissima 'Nanking'
Castanea mollissima 'Abundance', Castanea mollissima 'Crane', Castanea mollissima 'Kuling', Castanea mollissima 'Meiling', Castanea mollissima 'Nanking'
Tags:
#deciduous#wildlife plant#edible nuts#children's garden#playground plant#fantz#vhfn#vhfn-n
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • Castanea mollissima 'Abundance'
  • Castanea mollissima 'Crane'
  • Castanea mollissima 'Kuling'
  • Castanea mollissima 'Meiling'
  • Castanea mollissima 'Nanking'
Castanea mollissima 'Abundance', Castanea mollissima 'Crane', Castanea mollissima 'Kuling', Castanea mollissima 'Meiling', Castanea mollissima 'Nanking'
Tags:
#deciduous#wildlife plant#edible nuts#children's garden#playground plant#fantz#vhfn#vhfn-n
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Castanea
    Species:
    mollissima
    Family:
    Fagaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The nut is edible raw, boiled, or baked. The wood is hard, strong, and light and often used for fence posts.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Root Cutting
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    East Asia, China to North Korea
    Distribution:
    Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Taiwan, Windward Islands.
    Wildlife Value:
    Wildlife Enhancement
    Play Value:
    Edible fruit
    Pieces Used in Games
    Textural
    Edibility:
    Seeds can be baked and consumed.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 40 ft. 0 in. - 60 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 40 ft. 0 in. - 60 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Nut
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    The oval, round shaped nut ranges from 1 to 3 inches in length. The nut is crisp, meaty and sweet, though not as sweet as American chestnuts. It is good for fresh-eating, roasting, boiling and baking. Ripens in mid or lat September through October. Edible chestnuts are encased in spiny dehiscent burs (2 to 3 inches in diameter), usually 2 to 3 nuts per bur.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Gold/Yellow
    Gray/Silver
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Description:
    The flower is aromatic and appear in catkins in late spring or early summer. The male flowers are located at the top portion of the catkin and the female flowers near the base. Flowers can be quite showy, albeit for a brief period.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Oblong-lanceolate, coarsely toothed, dark green leaves (5 to 8 inches long) that are soft green and pubescent beneath. Leaves turn shades of yellow in fall.
  • Bark:
    Surface/Attachment:
    Ridges
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Recreational Play Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Asian Garden
    Children's Garden
    Edible Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
    Specimen
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Problems:
    Messy