University of Florida

Chestnut

The American chestnut tree dominated the forests of the Eastern United States until the chestnut blight struck in the early twentieth century. Today, gardeners can plant Chinese chestnut trees, which are blight-resistant.

Chinese chestnuts grow best in the northern half of Florida. Plant grafted trees in moderately acidic, well-drained soil where they'll get lots of sun.

AU-Cropper, AU-Leader, AU-Homestead, and Black Beauty are suitable Chinese chestnuts. Dunstan, Lucky 13, and Carpenter are recommended Chinese x American hybrids.

You'll want to protect young trees from squirrels, raccoons, deer, and other hungry pests. Once mature, the trees can reach up to forty feet tall and wide.

At least two trees are required to make the nuts, which are edible, though not quite as sweet as American chestnuts. Scientists are still trying to develop a blight-resistant American chestnut, so that this majestic tree can flourish once again.

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Immature fruit of Chinese chestnut
Jerry A. Payne, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

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