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CASTANEA mollissima

Image of Castanea mollissima

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Fagaceae

Botanical Name

CASTANEA mollissima

Plant Common Name

Chinese Chestnut

General Description

A spreading, deciduous tree, the Chinese chestnut has bristled leaves and starchy edible nuts. Native to Korea and northern China, it is a slow-growing, round-canopied tree that has spirally-furrowed, gray to grayish-brown bark. The leaves are simple (no lobes), oblong in shape with a tapered point and edges with teeth that end in very short bristles. The leaf undersides are lighter in color and softly fuzzy. In late spring or early summer, the branches are filled with flowers in fluffy white strings called catkins that emit a foul odor. Male flowers are at the tips of the catkin, and the female blossoms nearer the base will develop into large, attractive fruits that are spiny and colored light green. Inside each bur are two to three shiny brown edible nuts that are ripe by late summer. Fall foliage color is an array of yellow to gold tones.

Chinese chestnut should be planted in full sun in a moist, well-drained loam that is not alkaline. Once established it handles dry conditions well and performs much better in regions with long hot summers. It is a low-branching rounded tree perfect for use as an ornamental specimen. If acquiring an abundant crop of nuts is your motive, planting more than one tree will insure better pollination and more production. This species is resistant (but still susceptible) to the chestnut blight that killed vast numbers of American chestnuts (Castanea dentata) during the 20th century. Anthracnose (a fungal disease) and weevils may infest the fruits.

The chestnuts most often harvested and sold for roasting come from the Spanish chestnut, C. sativa.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    4 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    40'-70' / 12.2m - 21.3m (55)

  • Width

    40'-70' / 12.2m - 21.3m (60)

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    China, Korea

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Spreading

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Light Yellow, Ivory

  • Fruit Color

    Light Green, Chartreuse

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Yellow, Gold, Tan

  • Bark Color

    Sandy Brown, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Corky

  • Usage

    Edible, Feature Plant, Shade Trees, Street Trees

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes