Castanea dentata
Common name: 
American Chestnut
kas-TAH-ne-a den-TAH-ta
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Deciduous tree, to 100 ft ( 30 m), wide spreading branches, rounded crown.  Leaves simple, alternate, thin, oblong-lanceolate, 12-24 cm long, 4.5-7.5 cm wide, cuneate base, long-pointed tip, sharp pointed serrations, dull-shiny, without hairs, dark green above.   Male flowers in showy catkins, female flowers inconspicuous, solitary, or in clusters of 2-3, at the base of male catkins.  Fruit enclosed in a prickly burs that are 5-8 cm diameter containing 2-3 ovoid nuts flat on one side, glossy brown, pale downy toward the tops.
  • Full sun
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 4    Native range from southern Maine to Michigan, south to Alabama and Mississippi.  However, a fungal blight disease (caused by Cryphonectia parasitica, formerly Endothia parasitica) introduced near the turn of the 19th century eliminated most trees in its native range.  Hybrids of C. dentata have been developed with the more resistant C. mollissima, Chinese Chestnut, and C. crenata, Japanese Chestnut.
  • The blight disease has been identified in the Pacific Coast states and provinces, but it is not common, and C. dentata is grown in this region.   
  • Identifying common Castanea species:  The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) is a group intent on reestablishing the American chestnut in North America.  This requires incorporating resistant to Chestnut Blight, the disease that is responsible for the devastating loss of this species since the accidental introduction of the causal agent, Cryphonectria parasitica, into Noth America in 1904.  This goal requires the accurate identification of individuals of Castanea dentata that appear potentially resistant to the disease.  The TACT has developed a Fact Sheet that compares visual characteristics of five Castanea species to assist in their identification.  TACF Fact Sheet

  • Castanea: from Greek kastana (chestnut), after a town in northern Greece.  dentata: toothed (the leaves).
  • Oregon State Univereisty campus: east side of the old arboretum behind Moreland Hall
Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit

    plant habit

  • plant habit

    plant habit

  • foliage


  • leaves


  • leaf


  • leaf margin

    leaf margin

  • start of flowering, male

    start of flowering, male

  • male flower clusters and leaves

    male flower clusters and leaves

  • male and female flowers

    male and female flowers

  • male catkin and flower/fruit

    male catkin and flower/fruit

  • male catkin senescence

    male catkin senescence

  • developing fruit

    developing fruit

  • stem and bud, summer

    stem and bud, summer

  • leaves and fruit, fall

    leaves and fruit, fall

  • fruit, developing seed

    fruit, developing seed

  • leaves, fall

    leaves, fall

  • young trunk, bark

    young trunk, bark

  • old trunk, bark

    old trunk, bark

  • twig and buds, fall

    twig and buds, fall

  • twigs and buds, winter

    twigs and buds, winter