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It's Roasting Chestnuts Day

It's Roasting Chestnuts Day and the perfect opportunity to learn about Chestnut trees!

  • Native American Chestnut treesCastanea dentata, were once found throughout the eastern U.S. They were giant, magnificient trees with long, straight trunks.
 American Chestnut trees were common and made up about half of the trees found within the eastern forests.
  • But a fungal disease, called Chestnut blight, was accidentally introduced in the 1900s wiping out most of our American Chestnut trees. 
 Cankers appearing on a Chestnut tree. The fungus attacks the inner bark, and cambium layer, which creates new growth.
  • When abundant, American Chestnuts were economically important trees, used by Native Americans and the European settlers for food, timber, medicine and to feed livestock. Numerous wildlife species also found homes and food in the trees.
 Children collecting American Chestnut nuts
  • This time of year may bring up visions of "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire". The European ChestnutCastanea sativa, is typically the chestnut roasted today, with most of the nuts being imported from Italy. The outer brown skin must be split to access the internal yellow-white edible portion.
 Chestnuts roasting over an open fire.
  • The non-native, and unrelated, Horse ChestnutAesculus hippocastanum, has nuts which are considered poisonous to people but squirrels and deer love them.
 The tall blossoms of the Horse Chestnut tree. Note the different leaf shape.

To learn more about American Chestnut trees and the efforts to restore them, visit the American Chestnut Foundation