the name of about 12 species of trees with spreading branches. Chestnut
trees grow in parts of North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. They
bear spiny burs that contain edible, starchy nuts. The Chinese,
Japanese, and European chestnuts are grown commercially for the nuts
chestnut was once the most important forest tree in the Eastern United
States. This large tree was found from central Maine, along the
Appalachian Mountains, and westward to the Mississippi River. From 1905
to 1940, a fungal disease called chestnut blight killed most of these
trees in North America. The disease probably entered the United States
in the 1890's from China or Japan. American chestnuts grow more than 70
feet (21 meters) tall. In the past, people valued the American chestnut
for its decay-resistant wood, the tannin (a substance used to tan
leather) it supplied, and the nuts it produced. Chestnut wood was widely
used for railroad ties, telephone and telegraph poles, fence posts,
lumber, furniture, and woodwork. The chinquapin, a small tree or shrub
related to the American chestnut, grows in Oklahoma and the Southeast.
Each bur of this species contains only one small nut.
classification. Chestnuts are in the beech family, Fagaceae. The
American chestnut is Castanea dentata. The chinquapin is C. pumila.
Richard A. Jaynes, Ph.D., Horticulturalist and Consultant, Broken Arrow