Chinese Chestnut (Castanea mollissima)

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Tree
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Water Preferences: Mesic
Dry Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Moderately acid (5.6 – 6.0)
Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Neutral (6.6 – 7.3)
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 4b -31.7 °C (-25 °F) to -28.9 °C (-20 °F)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 8b
Plant Height: 30 to 40 feet, rarely to 60 feet
Plant Spread: 40 to 50 feet
Leaves: Good fall color
Other: 5 to 8 inch, soft green with pubescent reverse. Leaves turn various shades of yellow in autumn.
Fruit: Showy
Other: 2 to 3 edible nuts are encased in spiny, dehiscent burs.
Fruiting Time: Late summer or early fall
Flowers: Showy
Flower Color: Other: Yellowish-white
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Late spring or early summer
Underground structures: Taproot
Uses: Shade Tree
Edible Parts: Fruit
Resistances: Deer Resistant
Rabbit Resistant
Drought tolerant
Pollinators: Various insects
Containers: Not suitable for containers
Miscellaneous: Tolerates poor soil

leaves and burrs/seedpods

Photo gallery:
Location: Indiana  Zone 5Date: 2011-10-06leaves and burrs/seedpods
By gardengus
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Location: Halifax, PennsylvaniaDate: 2019-08-09mature tree in landscape
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Location: Halifax, PennsylvaniaDate: 2019-08-09bark and trunk
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Location: Halifax, PennsylvaniaDate: 2019-08-09foliage with some fruit
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Location: Halifax, PennsylvaniaDate: 2019-08-09spiny fruit and leaves
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Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Jul 13, 2018 12:15 PM

The Chinese Chestnut has been planted occasionally in the eastern and Midwestern US for its production of nuts, after the fall of the American species from the blight. The ones I have seen tend to be about 30 to 40 feet high and often wider in spread with many low branches, growing to 60 feet possible. Therefore, this species grows shorter and wider than the American species, often being multi-leadered in trunks. The leaves often are rough hairy underneath, at least on the veins.( The word "mollissima' in Latin means very hairy.) The leaves are 3 to 8 inches long and 2 to 3.5 inches wide with either small or large teeth on the margins that are straight and not curved. The leaves tend to be widest just past the middle, closer to the tip. The twigs are hairy towards the tips and are green to tan with large, elliptical, yellowish lenticels. The buds should have some hair and are tan to black, rounded, and flat against the twig. The 2 to 3 nuts in the spiny capsule are large and sweet and are 3/4 to 2 inches wide. The Chinese Chestnut is planted to be a nut tree in the US, and of course, like other chestnuts, the fallen fruit hurts if one steps on the sharp hairs of the capsules, definitely not for ornamental purposes in a yard. (One method of bringing back the American Chestnut has been breeding it with this Chinese species so that plants that are about 15/16ths American and only 1/16th Chinese are starting to be planted to restore the native species.)

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