American Forests

Best of American Forests

Home/Revival of the American Chestnut

Revival of the American Chestnut

Before the early 1900s, the American chestnut was the predominant tree species in eastern forests. Today, more than 100 years after a blight forced it into extinction, scientists are resurrecting this once-great tree.
By Tom Horton

Healthy American chestnuts in Lesesne State Park. (Credit: Vicky Sawyer)

Once, their creamy June bloom so festooned the eastern hardwood forests that they looked from afar “like a sea with white combers plowing across its surface,” wrote the naturalist Donald Culross Peattie. That annual exuberance of the American chestnut began fading from the landscape around 1904, when a blight imported on Asian chestnuts began rampaging from Maine to Georgia. By the 1950s destruction was complete.

Of literally billions of chestnuts growing in the tree’s historic range when the blight hit, only dozens of pre-blight survivors struggle on in the wild today. Far more numerous are chestnuts that sprout from the roots of felled forest giants, only to die in a decade or two from the deadly fungus that may never go away.

But now comes the best hope in over a century for restoring the species that once comprised a quarter of all eastern hardwoods, with economic and environmental values unmatched by anything in today’s forest. A modest but historic planting of several hundred little chestnuts has completed their first full growing season in the wild on U.S. Forest Service lands in Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

Researchers say they are strong performers, reaching three to seven feet, some flowering at an earlier age than normal. That’s the merest wisp of what Peattie described; “But we’re excited,” says Meghan Jordan of the American Chestnut Foundation (ACF), which supplied the trees. “This means that our goal after 25 years has moved from breeding a chestnut that can survive to working on landscape-level restoration.”

The little trees represent the sixth generation of a breeding program begun by the 6,000-member ACF in 1989. Only hundreds of latest-generation nuts have been available to date, but this fall’s harvest was 13,000, and the numbers will grow geometrically.

A 94% American backcross hybrid, which characteristics of the American species, but the resistance of the Chinese. (Credit: American Chestnut Restoration Foundation/USDAFS)

With this latest hybrid, unofficially dubbed the “Restoration” chestnut, breeders feel they have a tree with enough of the Chinese chestnut’s natural blight resistance to have a shot at surviving; but also a tree that is virtually indistinguishable in form, growth rate, and wood quality from a pure American chestnut.

Approximately 15⁄16ths American and 1⁄16th Chinese, “It’s probably not the best tree we can achieve, but it’s good enough to start planting,” says Kim Steiner, director of Penn State University’s arboretum, and a science advisor to the Chestnut Foundation.

Planting will continue in national forests. And next spring in Pennsylvania’s Westmoreland County, about 500 more of the blight-resistant chestnuts will be planted on a private, cutover forest plot, Steiner says. This planting, at a place fittingly known as Chestnut Ridge, will intersperse the chestnuts with other native species — white pine, red oak, black cherry, sugar maple — “the first attempt to see how they compete in a real-world situation,” says Sara Fitzsimmons, another chestnut researcher at Penn State.

The main concession to how the forest has changed since the chestnut last dominated will be a sturdy deer fence (“Please, make deer reduction the lead of your story,” implored one chestnut breeder).

While the Chestnut Foundation’s new, resistant trees are the first soldiers to be deployed against the blight, other ongoing programs could soon bear fruit: a chestnut genetically engineered for blight resistance; genetically altered strains of the blight fungus itself that weaken it; and, farther from success, breeding a pure native with resistance by crossing old survivor chestnuts to one another.

If there was an “Aha!” moment in bringing American chestnuts back this far from the brink, it came around 1980 when Charles Burnham, a corn geneticist, read of the shutdown of a decades-long, failed attempt by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to breed a resistant chestnut. Burnham had always assumed that program, which crossed thousands of American and Chinese trees since the 1930s, would eventually succeed. Reading the USDA’s published results, Burnham was shocked to realize that its scientists, including future Green Revolution Nobelist Norman Borlaug, had ignored a basic tenet of breeding resistance into crops.

The key is a concept known as backcrossing. You cross Chinese and American parent trees, then breed successive generations back to the desired (American) parent, eventually winnowing out all the undesired Chinese characteristics (shrubby growth, for example) except for its disease-resistance. Backcrossing was how the King Ranch bred its famed Santa Gertrudis cattle to produce excellent meat while surviving the harsh south-Texas environment.

The USDA had been crossing American to Chinese chestnuts generation after generation. After decades, their closest success was a single hybrid, dubbed the Clapper tree after its breeder. Between 1946 and 1963 it grew arrow-straight and tall like an American chestnut, reaching 76 feet before succumbing to blight in 1976.

A pure Chinese chestnut, resistant to the blight. (Credit: American Chestnut Restoration Foundation/USDAFS)

Burnham and other scientists in 1983 founded the private, nonprofit American Chestnut Foundation to carry out a scientific program of backcross breeding. They anticipated the effort would, after several generations, produce a chestnut fit for recovering a vanished part of the American landscape and heritage.

The loss of the chestnut was an ecological calamity with few equals. The extinction of the passenger pigeon, and the near extinction of bison — all around the same time — were in the same ballpark.

Chestnuts dominated eastern hardwood forests not only in numbers; an estimated three to four billion trees across more than 30 million acres. Known as “redwoods of the East,” chestnuts grew fast and big, and lived long, reaching 100 feet in height, with diameters exceeding 12 feet, and attaining an average age of two to three centuries.

Their bold-grained, blondish wood was strong, easily worked, and extremely rot-resistant, used in everything from barn timbers to pianos, split-rail fences to fine furniture (in which it was often veneered with more fashionable woods like mahogany). It was beloved by timbermen for re-sprouting readily from the stump and reaching diameters of two feet or more in little over half a century; an oak on similar soils would take a couple centuries to add as much wood. “By the time a white oak acorn has made a baseball bat, the chestnut stump has made a railroad tie,” one advocate boasted.

A mature chestnut’s sweet, carroty-tasting nuts—as many as 6,000 from a single tree — were nearly a perfect food for both settlers and their livestock, as well as an array of wildlife from turkeys to bears. They are high in fiber, vitamin C, protein, and carbohydrates, and low in fat.

Most American chestnuts today are killed by the chestnut blight by the time they reach 15 feet in height. (Credit: Robert Llewellyn)

Their profusion of bloom supported honeybees and other pollinators. And because chestnuts blossom relatively late, their nut crop was never hit by the late frosts that often diminish the mast of oaks and hickories. The Romans ranked chestnuts alongside the olive tree and the grapevine as plants important to civilization.

More than a thousand place names that contain the word chestnut remain today throughout the Appalachians, which were the heart of the species’ range. “Chestnut brown was considered the most beautiful shade of a woman’s hair, and the man who had a chestnut beard was usually considered handsome… silks and satins were available in chestnut brown,” wrote 101-year-old Georgia Miller of Pennsylvania a few years ago, recalling her childhood in chestnut forests.

By 1989 the American Chestnut Foundation had secured farmland to begin its research and breeding program at the southern end of the Shenandoah Valley in the small town of Meadowview, Virginia. Complementary programs would be added throughout the historic range of the chestnut as the foundation’s state chapters grew to include 15 states.

The process of tree breeding is not given to “eureka” breakthroughs. With the chestnuts, it meant carefully selecting parent stock (cloned offspring of the USDA’s Clapper tree were among the first generation), then laboriously hand-pollinating the trees, and bagging female flowers in plastic to keep out undesired pollen. Then breeders wait years for the offspring to grow, inoculate them with blight, and select as few as one out of every 150 trees that show the best resistance and most American-like growth habit.

Then they do it all over again, generation after generation, hoping that genetic theory, forecasting a chestnut worthy of reintroduction after six crosses, corresponds to reality.

For two decades now, this historic quest has fallen to Fred Hebard, a taciturn, almost shy plant researcher who has directed the Meadowview facility from the beginning. A native of Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill suburb, he’s not given to talking much about matters other than the science of chestnuts. But it’s clear this is more than a job to him. Hebard was even a model for a character in local writer Barbara Kingsolver’s best selling novel, Prodigal Summer:

The American chestnut’s distinctive leaves, burs, and nuts. (Credit: American Chestnut Foundation)

“He was haunted by the ghosts of these old chestnuts, by the great emptiness their extinction had left in the world. He understood that on his slow march toward his heavenly reward, he would spend as many years as possible growing and backcrossing the American with the Chinese chestnut . . . ”

Last year, Hebard challenged his first few sixth-generation “restoration” chestnuts by inoculating them with blight. He hit them hard with a massive dose, much more severe than they’d have received in nature, he says.

“Oh, they all died.”
“And how do you feel about that?”
“Pretty good.”

He explains that such a dose probably would have killed even resistant Chinese chestnuts. “It was just a preliminary test, with no controls, not a scientific experiment,” he says. And before they died, the little chestnuts exhibited about the same response to the blight, forming only slight cankers, as he would have expected of naturally resistant Chinese chestnuts.

In the next couple years, Hebard says, there will be larger-scale, more formal experiments testing the latest generation of trees’ resistance alongside Chinese chestnuts. Plans have already been laid to take the Meadowview program through another few generations of crossing to get an even better chestnut 20 years hence.

“Meanwhile,” he says, “we’re going to plant. With the state chapters, we’ll put millions of these trees throughout their range.” They will go, Hebard says, on available lands in national forests, on private property, and also to reforest abandoned strip-mined sites across Appalachia in a partnership with the federal Office of Surface Mining.

Hebard, now 61, says at best it will be decades before it’s clear how successful he has been.

Among his concerns is whether we fully understand all the mechanisms chestnuts employ to resist the blight; also “Will the Chinese chestnut’s resistance, even if we put it all into an American tree, be enough? The blight may evolve, too.”

But “restoration” chestnuts may not be the only tool in our arsenal before long. Scientists have found naturally occurring viruses in the forest that are, in effect, a blight of the chestnut blight, infecting it and weakening its destructive power. In Europe, such “hypovirulence” effectively stopped the blight from destroying that continent’s chestnuts. It’s possible that hypovirulence might help, in Hebard’s words, “to put the

[restoration chestnuts] over the top.”

These restoration chestnuts at Meadowview Research Farm show resistance to the blight. (Credit: American Chestnut Foundation)

At the University of Maryland’s Biotechnology Center in Shadyside, virologist Donald Nuss has been dissecting the American strains of hypovirulence, trying to understand why they don’t spread as easily in the wild here as they do in Europe.

His funding comes from the National Institutes of Health, which is interested in how viruses work; the chestnut hypovirulence is one of the easiest ways to study this, Nuss says.

Nuss has cloned the hypovirulence and inserted it into a transgenic chestnut blight whose effects on trees are far less severe. So far, neither the hypovirulence or his transgenic blight seem able to spread efficiently on their own in the wild, which would be essential for becoming effective across the landscape.

Scientists think the problems lie partly in the large number of strains in which both blight and hypovirulence occur. There is a lot of incompatibility, which retards spreading; also, European chestnuts probably have a little more natural resistance than American chestnuts, which allows the hypoviruses to work more easily there.

The hypovirus here may make the blight too weak, so that it can’t spread in a less destructive form; in effect, vaccinating the chestnuts it encounters against the full-strength blight. Meanwhile, the original blight is able to remain dormant in dozens of non-chestnut tree species, from which it respreads by wind and by birds.

Another hope lies with engineering a transgenic chestnut. A chestnut with a disease-resistant wheat gene has already been produced experimentally by researchers William Powell and Charles Maynard at the State University of New York’s Environmental Science and Forestry school in Syracuse.

Powell says a $5.6-million project that includes sequencing all the genes in the chestnut is two years from completion. He expects that this will allow researchers to produce a chestnut that is pure American except for the addition of a few genes from the Chinese chestnut that confer disease-resistance.

One of the funders of that project is Duke Energy, which is interested in the chestnut’s potential to reclaim coal-mining land, but also in its promise for sequestering carbon dioxide. A Purdue University study shows that the growth rate, size and longevity of chestnuts let them store more carbon, and at a faster rate, than any other hardwood.

There’s also an ancient chestnut tree that Fred Hebard directs you to on your route home from Meadowview. The “Amherst tree” is so large, so gnarled with age, and so rare that, like a few dozen other long-surviving chestnuts, it has been named.

To develop resistance to the blight, young trees are inoculated with samples of the chestnut blight fungus. (Credit: American Chestnut Foundation)

It sits alone in the middle of a pasture near Amherst, Virginia, full of healed-over cankers, its crown wracked by storms, but enduring. Gary Griffin, Hebard’s PhD mentor at Virginia Tech, says these most ancient survivor trees almost all share a few characteristics. “They have some natural resistance, they are infected by the hypovirulence, and they have very good growing environments.”

Griffin, an emeritus professor of plant pathology, has been working since 1973 grafting tissue from old survivors (and younger ones that have made it to about 15 inches in diameter) onto American chestnut rootstock, crossing these to one another. There is plenty of evidence that genetic resistance to disease can be recovered by crossing even trees with relatively low resistance; but it is taking awhile — “We’re about halfway there,” he ventures.

Griffin has one tree, grafted in the early 1980s, that is now 24 inches in diameter and close to 70 feet tall. “I have no problem with what Fred is doing trying to produce a hybrid,” he says, “but a lot of people also just want to bring back the pure American tree.”

Just as the chestnut blight appears here to stay, so does the movement to restore the chestnut to its place in the forest. In Carroll County, Maryland, in partnership with the American Chestnut Foundation and American Forests, more than 18,000 school children each year participate in a science curriculum built around experimental chestnut orchards.

Nor has the chestnut itself ever really gone away, notes Essie Burnworth, head of the ACF’s Maryland chapter: “There are millions of them around, sprouting from old stumps, sitting as seedlings in the forest understory, just waiting for light to grow.”

Burnworth explains that American chestnuts have an extraordinary ability to “release,” or spurt toward the light when surrounding canopy trees die. Fred Hebard says he’s seen understory chestnuts only an inch in diameter that show 60 years of growth rings, followed by growth that approaches an inch a year after they get access to light.

Chestnut hybrids, grown at the Hashawa Environmental Center in Carroll County, MD. (Credit: Melissa Boyle)

A project to spot chestnuts sprouting within sight of the Appalachian Trail has so far turned up more than 40,000, Burnworth says. Many clear-cuts literally explode with long-suppressed chestnuts racing for the light.

All evidence is that if the blight can be overcome, the chestnut can outcompete most any other hardwood to become part of the forest canopy. “Maybe only yellow poplar, on excellent yellow poplar sites, might outgrow it,” says Kim Steiner.

Fred Paillet, a University of Arkansas geoscientist who often writes on chestnuts, has taken the long view. He cites pollen profiles from North American lakes that show virtually all hemlocks simply vanished from the forests some 5,000 years ago — probably of a disease still unknown — and then reappeared throughout their range a few centuries later.

“The American chestnut, considering it’s been around millions of years, can in the long term probably take care of itself as long as wild woodlands and rodents and jays exist to forage and spread the nuts.” Paillet wonders whether it’s possible for the chestnut to someday be seen as virtually “invasive;” a problem, he writes, “I would gladly live with.”

— Tom Horton writes from Maryland’s Eastern Shore

This article was published in the Winter 2010 issue of American Forests magazine.

December 1st, 2011|Tags: |38 Comments


  1. Nancy Beck April 15, 2013 at 10:50 am - Reply

    We have a HUGE American Chestnut Tree in our yard, that was planted by a grandfather of the Beck family it’s just huge. It hasn’t come out yet and we are worried. Usually, the Huge oak comes out, the chestnut tree comes out then the Water oak comes out.. but this year nothing and we are worried. What should we look for – I have checked other websites and it doesn’t seem to be any issues with blight or anything. It is extremely tall.

  2. William Moore August 14, 2013 at 11:15 pm - Reply

    This same blight is responsible for the kill off of another bush (shrub) that also has edible nuts similar to the chestnut. The bush (and nut) I’m talking about is called the “chinquapin” and I’m wondering if the same techniques used to save the American Chestnut can be used to save the chinquapin. This bush was common in the southern Appalachia region, and also in the Ozarks. I’m, especially interested in the transgenic technique where they have transfered a gene from wheat that provides a chemical pathway that detoxifies the toxic agent of the blight (I’m a layman and have forgotten the technical details). I’m hoping that technique can be used to save and restore the chinquapins to their former range.


    • Allen Nichols March 17, 2015 at 5:59 pm - Reply

      William, We are definitely looking into developing a blight resistant chinquapin with the same gene we are putting into the American Chestnut. The only reason we are not doing it now is that we are working on getting our American chestnut deregulated, which may take us 5 years and will cost us an estimated $300,000/year.
      Check this link to see how resistant our transgenic tree is.

      Thanks, Allen Nichols
      President, TACF-NY

      • Rob Alvey December 25, 2015 at 3:16 pm - Reply

        Merry Christmas! What a difference a year makes!

  3. Clark Wheeler August 27, 2013 at 5:31 pm - Reply

    August 27, 2013 – I found some fresh chestnuts on the bank of a river near Lake Glenville, in western North Carolina. I looked up and saw two chestnut trees, about 60-70 feet high. I wonder if reseachers somewhere know about these producing trees. cw

    • Tabitha Steward April 6, 2016 at 4:15 am - Reply

      If you come across more chestnuts I would send some to a seedbank.

      There are many seedbanks and other botanists dedicated to preserving rare species. The Few nuts could really make a difference in bringing back a species.

      Some wildlife agencies might know a good place to plant them that is blight free or likely to be.

      • Carey Doyle May 1, 2016 at 4:53 pm - Reply

        I just found an American Chestnut tree in the heavily wooded area on our property. I found a large amount of seed pods and a leaf. Who do I send the samples to?

  4. carlos mateus October 15, 2013 at 6:57 am - Reply

    I really hope that the US can reborn their american Chestnut tree. Here in Europe a similar fight is going on.
    The Phytophthora spp and the Cryphonectria parasitica are spread all over but fortunately our Sativa Chestnut has been resisting a little bit better than your Dentata Chestnut, although every year we see more and more farmers giving up the true sativa and going also for the hybrids. I am one of the few which still believe in the original sativa although in my small orchard with 10 years now, most of the original trees have died due to those beasts. I have been planting again and again each year and I will keep doing it as long as I still see Sativa trees resisting to those beasts.

  5. james kim October 23, 2013 at 10:24 am - Reply

    Inspiring article.
    Men like Dr. Hebard and all other researchers who give their lives for american chestnut deserve to be american heroes.
    May God bless them all.
    This is the best article in the american forests magazine I ever read.

  6. maria December 9, 2013 at 9:52 am - Reply

    As much as I would love to see chestnut trees here I do not think transgenic chestnut is the way to go. Too risky. Best bet lies in finding a compatible species to hybridize traditionally.

    • Charles Maynard November 2, 2014 at 1:52 pm - Reply


      I think that you are judging the transgenic approach vs. the breeding approach too quickly, or with insufficient data.

      First, I consider there Backcross breeding method used by The American Chestnut Foundation to be perfectly safe, and I am looking forward to eating some of their chestnuts just as soon as they are available. However I also look forward to eating the nuts from the transgenic chestnut trees we have produced, because I know that they are even safer.

      Please visit our website and watch the Ted-x video of a presentation my colleague Bill Powell gave a year or so ago. Especially focus on the part (starting about 6 minutes in) where he talks about hybrid breeding and genetic engineering, and how much more disruptive the former is to the chestnut genome.

      The second video that you should watch is time-lapse showing a small resistance trial, it has a link in the paragraph to the left of Bill’s talk.

      I hope that, after hearing Bill’s talk and seeing the results of ~25 years of research you will reconsider the idea that transgenics is “too risky.”


      Dr. Charles Maynard
      Co-Director, American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project
      SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
      1 Forestry Drive
      Syracuse, NY 13210

  7. Brandon December 15, 2013 at 11:10 pm - Reply

    How does the blight get transferred to non-infected trees? Birds, critters, wind, pollen in the wind? Every article I have read just says that eventually the tree will become infected, but it never says how the tree actually becomes infected. thank you for any information on this matter.

    • Jake April 9, 2014 at 2:02 pm - Reply

      The blight creates little orange seeds that protrude from the tree, they look like pimples. These release on animals, mainly birds, and insects as well. They can also release spores that will travel through the air limited distances, the spores also get into streams and other water supplies. That is why the Blight was able to infect so quickly.The blight is versatile enough to infect other plants, including types of Oak trees. Check out, they live for the chestnut comeback.

  8. Bill Porter May 24, 2014 at 2:37 pm - Reply

    Good article.
    When I bought my property here in South Central MA 30 odd years ago, there were several American Chestnut trees 6″-7″ DBH, 30′-40’tall alive in my woods. We even harvested a few chestnuts for a year or two. They are now all dead but still standing,shorn of bark and limbs, very much like white ghosts.

  9. Iver Lofving August 19, 2014 at 8:41 am - Reply

    There are a few remnant chestnuts growing here in Maine. I think the reason they are still alive is that there are high mountains to the west of them, and the disease can’t get to them. Unfortunately a stand in Rockport succumbed to the disease recently. I wonder how they would do on an island? They would be protected by miles of ocean.

    • Kyle Koelsch October 6, 2014 at 3:47 pm - Reply

      Yet even the vast oceans couldn’t keep the blight from infecting American Chestnut.

      • Charles Maynard November 2, 2014 at 4:54 pm - Reply


        The Chestnut blight-causing fungus (Cryphonectri parasitica) crossed the “vast ocean” by boat. Specifically by nurseries and individuals importing seedlings and from Asia in the late 1800s. These Asian chestnut species are only slightly succeotable to the blight, just enough to be good carriers. The first known introduction of a non-native chestnut species was Japanese chestnut (Castanea crenata) seedlings in 1876 by S. B. Parsons of Flushing, New York at the western end of Long Island, only about 10 miles from where the blight was discovered in 1904 in the Bronx Zoo.

        There were a numbrt of other introductions of Chinse and Japanise chestnuts between 1876 and 1904, so it is very likley that there were also multiple introductions of blight.


  10. kevin October 12, 2014 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    i wanted to plant a chestnut tree, would it be a bad idea to do so? Id hate to actully succesfully grow a tree, just to help spread a disease. Is there a place to buy a chinese /american hybird tree that is protected from blight? please let me know.

  11. Kim and Pete Scudera November 24, 2014 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    We would like very much to be part of the restoration of the American chestnut, but we haven’t yet seen any information about when the transgenic chestnuts might be available. We have 200+ acres on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River waiting for those trees!

  12. david foxworthy March 4, 2015 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    I have an old chestnut tree laying in the woods. It’s in 3 sections about fifteen ft. each. I’ve cut one into and it’s full of worm holes. Has some beautiful blue coloring in spots, from metal I assume. When the moss and dirt are removed they are a lovely orange shade with a white soft substance covering the holes. It scrapes off easily.
    I’ve thought of pressure washing to clean them but don’t want to harm them. They are beautifully carved by mother nature. any suggestions of how to handle them
    would be greatly appreciated .

  13. Christine April 15, 2015 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    We have a huge American Chestnut in our yard and another large one among other trees. They produce a ton of nuts each year, which the Bluejays love. I also have one in a three gallon pot. I live in Washington State.

  14. Jayne Knarich April 29, 2015 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    When we purchased our home in Upper Nyack, New York, almost 50 years ago, we were given to understand that the chestnut tree in our yard, as well as the one in our neighbor’s yard, were survivors of the blight. We’ve eaten the chestnuts from time to time over the years. Our tree is still going strong but never got huge. May 30′ – 40′ tall.

  15. Matt Smith April 30, 2015 at 12:48 am - Reply

    I remember a Chestnut tree on my street in a small town in Upstate New York in the early 1970s. I remember seeing the chestnuts In their spiky green husks all over part of their driveway and sidewalk. I remember hearing about and possibly seeing another kid eat the nuts. I can’t wait until this American native has returned to prominence across our forests and yards.

  16. Brad June 28, 2015 at 11:14 am - Reply

    I applaud the work of the American Chestnut Foundation for its backcrossing program and for the work of the SUNY College of Environmental Science & Foresty’s work with transgenics. I hope to see this kind of work used to help the American elm, American butternut, Eastern hemlock, all ash trees & other organisms for the sake of saving them from extinction. I fear some people will needlessly freak out over the concept of GMOs and will try to block it.

    If we as a species created problems then I feel that we as a species should also try to fix the problems that we created. Its morally & ecologically responsible to do so!

  17. Jennifer Davis July 7, 2015 at 7:10 pm - Reply

    My grandmother and grandfather’s house (now mine) has a 50 to 60 year old Chestnut Tree growing in our backyard .. It produces thousands of nuts every year ! It’s strong and healthy and I can usually predict how are winters will be in New Jersey by how early the nuts start forming and when the squirrels start storing them away .. This year like last we have had full grown nuts by the beginning of July .. It’s about 40 feet high and I do prune it every other year .. If we can help in any way to help restore the American Chestnut tree again please contact us ❤️

  18. JP Leonard July 27, 2015 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    Is there anywhere one could buy a blight-resistant hybrid seedling or chestnut seed?
    thank you

  19. Jaime August 24, 2015 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    Is there or will there be a way to get seedlings of these hybrids for individuals to plant on their own property?

  20. Nancy Dorey September 30, 2015 at 12:39 am - Reply

    Today while watching my granddaughter play soccer, I came across a tree I had never seen. It was a chestnut for sure, but not the huge chestnuts we see in older neighborhoods in northwest Oregon and Washington. The nuts are covered in a soft she covered with sharp sines, and seen to come in pairs on a stem. When opened there are three small sends inside that are approximately 3/4 x1/2 inch in size. The leaves are shaped like a feather, some longer than 12″ and have a small pointed edge at the end of leave vein. Is this a hybrid chestnut?

  21. JERILYN SANTIAGO October 14, 2015 at 1:46 pm - Reply


    Jerilyn Santiago

  22. Malcolm Overton March 13, 2016 at 11:43 pm - Reply

    I Have recently purchased 2 Revival and 1 Dunstan Chestnut Cultivars for my small farm in Southern Indiana. I Apreciate the efforts to bring this great tree back into our forrest. Hybrids may end up being as good as it gets. Wildlife will benefit either way.

  23. Pamela Messer March 22, 2016 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    Fingers crossed! I just purchased two revival chestnuts that are supposed to be the 15/16 hybrid. They are a gift to my surveyor husband for his birthday. We both love trees in general and would love to see these make a comeback in North America. I have pictures of my grandfather (a prison guard in WV) standing with his crew under a MASSIVE chestnut tree. They seemed to be everywhere when I was little and stepping on the spiny balls was NO FUN! Now-they are just gone. Sad 🙁

  24. greg koehler May 4, 2016 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    there’s a place close by in huron, ohio that has a mature American chesnut tree …… scientists (botanists) took a shotgun to shoot off a sample from high on the tree for study ….. that would be something if they could find a cure for the disease.

  25. David Uschock May 26, 2016 at 10:24 am - Reply

    Where did you purchase the 15/16 hybrid revival chestnut trees? Thank You.

  26. Jocelyn Clarke November 14, 2016 at 8:54 am - Reply

    I live on PEI, eastern Canada. There is no blight here and we have chestnuts. Most mature trees were probably brought by Loyalits, and folks are planting a lot of young ones now to give the old trees a pollinator. Some folks have bought mail order hybrids, but with no blight pressure, there is no way to test their resistance. Nova Scotia, south of us, has had blight, but it appears to have been stamped out, as there have been no new cases since 2013. It may come back. I planted a hybrid, and am producing BC1 nuts for planting. Where should I go from there?

  27. Lyn oran July 10, 2017 at 10:06 am - Reply

    I live in North Granby CT. We have many small chestnuts trees. Every year one produces chestnuts and then starts to die. In its place another tree grows.
    This year I will have two producing chestnuts. They were not planted as this is a newly developed area. Use to be just forest. Any way of preventing the blight?
    The trees are dark wood, the nuts about half the size they should be.

  28. sasquatters September 17, 2017 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    We have several large American Chestnut trees in our yard that Penn State used to come out and study. We sell the seeds every years if anyone is interested. Shoot us an email on our website.

  29. Seth Morris September 20, 2017 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    I would love to read a comparison between an American/Chinese hybrid (like Dunstan) with the transgenic trees that are being tested, fine-tuned and soon to be ready.

Leave A Comment