Big Ivy Chestnuts, NC  

TOPIC: Big Ivy Chestnuts

== 1 of 2 ==
Date: Tues, May 20 2008 10:46 pm
From: James Parton


Last December a friend of my father who bear hunts in the Coleman Boundary/Big Ivy section of Pisgah National Forest near Barnardsville NC told my dad of some big American Chestnuts located near a field a few miles down the road from Douglas Falls. I just wish I could remember the fellows name.

It turned out that my pastor, Walt Christian, of Dana United Methodist Church, also knew of the trees and told me that they are located near the upper part of a field at Corner Rock, just a short distance after entering PNF. After church Joy and I met up with Walt and his granddaughter Kayla and visited Big Ivy. Upon pulling in the Corner Rock parking area, I gathered up my camera, measuring equipment and hiking stick and Walt, Kayla and Joy accompanied me on the chestnut hunt. Walt led. It had been some time since he had visited the trees and he had to remember exactly where they were. He found out about them years before during a Wildflower and Bird pilgrimage hike sponsored by UNCA. UNCA has identified the trees as American Chestnut. 

Upon nearing the wood border I noticed quite a few chestnut sprouts. About that time I heard Walt exclaim " here it is " After entering the forest I immediatly saw the tree and exclaimed " Holy cow, it's huge! " The tree was greater in girth than any chestnut I have seen to date, even bigger than the large one I had found at Mt. Jefferson the day before. The trunk split in two a little under 4 feet above the ground and I measured it's girth just below the split. The first thing I did was examine the tree closely and see if it truly was an American Chestnut. The twigs matched the American tree and it has the deeply serrated leaves of the American tree. It also has the thinner all green leaves ( No light colored hairy underside like the Chinese ). There was one small difference in the leaves that is slightly different than most of the American trees I have seen. The leaves are not quite as oblong. Joy found only one burr under the tree. After coming home I compared some leaves from the tree against some in my collection and found them almost an exact match, except that the leaves were not quite as oblong as the ones I had obtained from chestnuts near Mt. Pisgah. 

I also compared the leaves to photos on The American Chestnut Foundation website. They did not match the Asian or European chestnuts at all. And definitly not a chinkapin. The American leaves were a nearly exact match, but once again the leaves are slightly shorter. Still longer and more toothy than the nearby beeches though. I wonder if it might be an American/Asian hybrid like the Dunstan Chestnut. The trees are too old to be an American/Chinese backcross like is being developed by TACF to restore the tree back to the forest. If I found one of those I would consider it to be an American since it would be over 90 percent American anyway. While I cannot entirely rule a hybrid out, the tree appears to be an American Chestnut. I have seen variations in American Beech leaves in different locations. Some having more pronounced serrations while somewhere else a beech will almost have none. Like people, trees vary, but usually not so much that you cannot tell the tree type. Walt stated that UNCA officials had identified the tree as an American Chestnut and Dad's friend also said it to be an American. He said he had eaten nuts from the tree and that they were smaller and tasted better than the Asian types. I will have to check that out before fall. I have yet to find an American tree with viable nuts.

Chestnut.jpg (71574 bytes) Chestnut_Leaves.jpg (73555 bytes)

Another large impressive tree was located near the first one. Both trees proved a challenge to measure. I could not see their trunks and tops simultaneously and I had Joy and Walt spot the trunks for me. It was raining lightly the whole time and we were quite damp when we got back in the car.

Corner Rock Chestnut 2.jpg (86868 bytes) Corner Rock Chestnut.jpg (70339 bytes)

Both trees are more massive than any chestnut I have seen to date. A 76 ft chestnut in Cataloochee is taller but not as massive.

I thank dad's friend, Bob ( I think ) and Walt for helping me find these magnificent trees.

CBH Height

American Chestnut 8' 4 3/4" 62.82'!!

American Chestnut 4' 8" 55.43'!

To add. There were some effects of the blight on the bigger tree. A
little bark damage and some dead limbs but overall the tree was very

James Parton

TOPIC: Big Ivy Chestnuts

== 2 of 8 ==
Date: Wed, May 21 2008 4:35 am
From: "Will Blozan"


Nice trees! If you have a bur, are the spines forked or not?


== 3 of 8 ==
Date: Wed, May 21 2008 7:48 am
From: James Parton


We only found one burr and it was not in good shape. I have a burr
from the Cataloochee tree and another from a chestnut on Pisgah. I
don't see any forked spines on these. Is it the Asian species that has
forked spines? Do they fork near the spines base or further up? If at
the base they would be hard to see.

James P.

== 4 of 8 ==
Date: Wed, May 21 2008 10:56 am
From: Ren

Can I get you to mail me a leaf off this tree? I have 2 American
hybreds of of unknown cross we're trying to fugure out too. Ours are
large mature trees one 30" d. and the other 14 D. and although with
identical leaves have different size and shape of nuts. Both prolific
with delicious nuts. We sprout the nuts and have 4-5' trees to spread
out in ther woods. Trees are unknown ages with no known Chinese trees
in several miles. So who's the daddy??? Ren

== 5 of 8 ==
Date: Wed, May 21 2008 4:34 pm
From: "Steve Galehouse"

Might these trees be Castanea x neglecta, the naturally occurring hybrid of
American chestnut and chinkapin? The chinkapin parentage would afford some
resistance to the blight, and might explain the slightly different leaf


== 6 of 8 ==
Date: Wed, May 21 2008 8:19 pm
From: James Parton


I have two leaves from the tree. I will mail you one but I will need
your physical address to do so. I will pay these trees another visit
or two this year, especially in late summer or fall when it may have

James P.

== 7 of 8 ==
Date: Wed, May 21 2008 8:23 pm
From: James Parton


It makes sense that Castanea Dentata and Castanea Pumila could
hybridize. I have never thought of that. Chinkapin is fairly common
around here thoughit seems I don't find many nut bearing trees. I love
to eat the little nuts.

I will have to see if I can find any data on Castanea Neglecta on the

James P.

== 8 of 8 ==
Date: Thurs, May 22 2008 4:00 am
From: JamesRobertSmith

Nice find!

== 2 of 5 ==
Date: Thurs, May 22 2008 6:08 am


In West Virginia there are an awful lot of places where Chinese chestnut
trees were planted in the 1950s and I have encountered trees up to 24" DBH or
about 80" CBH. Nearly 100% of the trees of larger size share the following
characteristics with the trees in your photos....low forks, moss or slime flux
of some sort in the forks and spreading tops. In nearly all the cases where I
have encountered larger American chestnut trees the bole has been extremely
straight and in most cases if they are about 10 or 12" DBH there was at least
20 or 30' of bole free of defects and limbs.

I have also encountered many of these older Chinese chestnut trees with
cankers similar to those encountered on Am. chestnut. On our lawn we have two 6
to 8" Chinese chestnut trees that are covered with cankers but still alive in
spite of at least 10 years of cankers....they also produce nuts every year.

Most Am. chestnut trees I have encountered are dead within one growing
season of showing blight cankers.


== 3 of 5 ==
Date: Thurs, May 22 2008 8:30 am
From: James Parton


I have a Chinese leaf in my collection. It is thicker, pale on the
underside and more " hairy " than the chestnuts in Big Ivy. But I have
heard that Asian chestnuts that are not so out in the sun may lack the
pale whitish underside on the leaves. Both have highly serrated leaves
but the American tree is a bit more and the serrations more often hook

These trees may be a type of hybrid, but somehow I doubt them being
purely Chinese. I have always heard the Chinese don't do well in the
woods. These are in the woods near the edge of a field. The tops do
protrude enough to get good sunlight though. Yes, I agree about the
American trees being straight trunked. The ones I found up on Mt.
Jefferson were like that.

James Parton

== 4 of 5 ==
Date: Thurs, May 22 2008 9:17 am


Depending upon how old the surrounding trees are, the largest hybrid and/or
Chinese chestnut trees I encounter are trees that were planted in a field that
has since been abandoned. Often the planted trees were three to ten years
older than the surrounding natural trees. Sometimes the chestnuts were
planted just outside the margin of cultivated land, a margin that has receded with
time and the trees begin to appear more a part of the natural forest than is
typical. My general experience is that the bark of the introduced chestnut
trees weathers and appears quite a bit different from the natives at similar

Even in your area there could be many 50 or 60 year old planted chesnut
trees deep in the woods....that used to be farm land.

Keep up with your photos!!!


== 5 of 5 ==
Date: Thurs, May 22 2008 10:05 am
From: James Parton


Yes, it is near a fields edge and the forest may have overtaken the
trees. Another thing that made me look at the chestnuts closely was
that on the other side of the field are planted Norway Spruce and
White Cedar. See my Coleman Boundary/Big Ivy post. I will definitly
have to pay these trees another visit or two so I can closely re-
examine them and see if I can lock down their ID. American, Hybrid,


TOPIC: Big Ivy Chestnuts

== 1 of 2 ==
Date: Sun, May 25 2008 7:02 am
From: Matthew Hannum

I found my first American Chestnut trees a couple of years ago, but
most were just root sprouts or small trees - those trees are rather
large. Perhaps they are some sort of naturally-occuring hybrid. Either
way, it's a great find!

On May 24, 12:53 am, James Parton <> wrote:

== 2 of 2 ==
Date: Sun, May 25 2008 7:23 am
From: James Parton


I feel that though rare, they are some large chestnuts out there to be
found. I enjoy looking for them. Will Blozan is our hemlock man and
Larry Tucei is our live oak dude. I can be our chestnut hunter. Ents
should keep their eyes out for these special trees.

I would love to see the Pennsylvania " A Team " do a detailed search
and documentation of Castanea Dentata in Cook Forest. I know some nice
chestnuts have already been found there.

James Parton

TOPIC: Big Ivy Chestnut Pics

== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Mon, Jun 2 2008 10:02 pm
From: James Parton


A couple of weeks ago Joy and I visited Big Ivy and found two really
nice Chestnut trees there. She had taken some really nice pictures of
the leaves and crown of the tree.  

[included in first section of post] 

It was raining that day which gave the leaves a really shiny look. I suspect a 
hybrid due to small differences in the leaves from most of the other American
Chestnuts that I am used to seeing. UNCA has identified these two
trees as American Chestnut according to Walt Christian who helped me
locate these trees. He found out about these trees during a UNCA

James P.


== 2 of 3 ==
Date: Tues, Jun 3 2008 6:34 pm
From: Larry

James, Cool stuff! Man could you imagine what a mature Chestnut must
have looked like, HUGE! Larry

== 3 of 3 ==
Date: Tues, Jun 3 2008 7:51 pm
From: James Parton


Yes, I think about that every time I see a chestnut struggling to
survive against the blight. Eventually, they always lose.

I am passionate about learning more on the American Chestnut and
hopefully finding rare sizeable trees. It is this passion that drove
me to join ENTS and TACF. The past is gone but hopefully the Chestnut
will someday return to the forest. Along with the Eastern and Carolina

James P.