American Chestnut Trees   chris bolgiano
  Mar 17, 2006 07:39 PST 

Dear Folks,

I am working as an editor for a book to be published by The American
Chestnut Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to breeding blight-resistant
American chestnut trees for restoration throughout the East (talk about
a long-term vision!). The book will contain essays by a number of
luminaries, e.g., Jimmy Carter, Barbara Kingsolver, Norman Borlaug,
etc. Also, it will have quotes, headines, poems, illustrations,
folklore, anecdotes, etc., probably in the margins, with the intent
being to both entertain and inform about the past and potential future
of this once magnificent and abundant tree. I would very much
appreciate any tips any of you could give me concerning the location of
photos or information about the historic size or beauty of this tree. I
do have references to the 17-foot diameter tree in NC as well as to a
few other large ones, but the information tends to be scattered, and
photos are harder to find. Thanks for any help you can offer!


Chris Bolgiano, Mildly Amusing Nature Writer
Author's website: 
Re: American Chestnut Trees   Kirk Johnson
  Mar 17, 2006 08:30 PST 


I don't know if this would be of interest to you, but Friends of Allegheny
Wilderness is working on a campaign to protect a 5,191-acre area of the
Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania dubbed "Chestnut Ridge" as

The name Chestnut Ridge was suggested to FAW by Dr. Susan Stout of the
Forest Service Northeastern Research Station due to the fact that there are
likely hundreds of young American chestnut trees colonizing a ridge top in
the area. A handful of these have reached 6"+ in diameter with no sign of
the blight (yet). This phenomenon suggests that this location was once
well-populated by mature American chestnuts.

Kirk Johnson
Re: American Chestnut Trees   Kirk Johnson
  Mar 17, 2006 09:19 PST 


Some (or most) are probably growing from root sprouts I would assume. But I
have seen some of the larger trees producing nuts too (I have a nut I
collected sitting on my desk as I write this).


  From: Darian Copiz:

Are the trees actually "colonizing" the ridge? Are they growing from
seed? That would be pretty exciting!

Re: American Chestnut Trees
  Mar 17, 2006 10:16 PST 
Chris, I have a book from the 1920's or so that has a nice pic of some huge chestnuts. We have a 10" 60'+ chestnut that is fruiting here where I work. Pictures of it are on the ENTS website. the blight was introduced to the tree when a hunter used a climbing tree stand in the tree, puncturing the bark as he went up. This spring I will be taking samples of two very large trees that are reported to be american chestnuts. I also have a lead on a group of trees in French Creek state park. When do you need the info by?

RE: American Chestnut Trees   Pamela Briggs
  Mar 17, 2006 10:29 PST 

Dear Chris --

Welcome to the list. I don't know any chestnut trees, but there's a
whole passel of them (please forgive the technical jargon) here in Iowa,
about an hour south of me. Tom Wahl is a grower and advocate of
chestnuts. I don't know him either, but I bet he has photos and
information to share.

"Chestnuts are Wahl's cash crop," The Hawk Eye, May 8, 2005

"The Chestnut Grower"

This is from Wahl's own site; his contact information is near the end of
the article, under "Conclusion."


Re: American Chestnut Trees   MICHAEL DAVIE
  Mar 17, 2006 14:19 PST 

Hey Chris-
Two places I can suggest looking for historic information and photos-
Great Smoky Mountains NP has a library that has an extensive collection of
photographs and records from the park over the years, as well as files on
logging operations in the park (including some "before" photos that are
painful to see); but I don't guess you can get to Gatlinburg to check it
out. There is an article in the October 1910 "Journal of Heredity" about big
trees, it has a photo of what may be the chestnut you speak of, though 17
feet may be the diameter at ground. There's a kind of lousy scan of a copy
from microfiche on the ENTS site at , but you
can get the idea.
Good luck,
Re: American Chestnut Trees    Edward Frank
   Mar 17, 2006 18:16 PST 


There are references to a number of large American Chestnut trees in an
article on the ENTS website by the late Colby Rucker:

A number of historical accounts of large chestnuts are listed in "Great
Eastern Trees Past and Present" by Colby Rucker (2004)

These accounts tell of a number of trees with great girths. One listing
stated: "North Carolina: American Chestnut. Joseph S. Illick stated that a
chestnut at Francis Cove, near Waynesville, Haywood County, had a trunk
diameter of seventeen feet. This is considered the greatest known diameter
of any eastern hardwood." Several other accounts described trees in the 8 to
12 foot diameter range. None of them talk about great height. The tallest
height mentioned in any of these accounts was 75 feet.

The current National Champion Tree (American Forest list) is in Washington
State. It is a planted tree outside the range of the blight. The figures for
it are as follows:

American Chestnut Castanea dentata
Location: Washougal, WA
Circumference: 242 inches
Height: 77 feet
Spread: 77 feet
Points: 338
Most Recent Measurement: 2004
Nominator/s: Robert Van Pelt and Michael Dunn

I am sure you have looked at the articles we have on our website concerning
American Chestnut at:

I will email you a larger version - still poor quality of the photo Micheal
Davie spoke of in his post.

Ed Frank
Re: American Chestnut Trees   chris bolgiano
  Mar 20, 2006 08:08 PST 

Dear folks,

Many thanks to the several ENTS members who sent info on chestnut
trees. I've forwarded several of the messages to the director of The
American Chestnut Foundation to make sure that group was aware of the
info (e.g., the PA chapter of TACF will definitely want to know about
the proposed wilderness area if they don't already), and have filed all
of them for my future use. Our book on American chestnuts will have
recipes and nutritional info, so i was glad to get the article on the
demand for nuts to eat. And the story below about Am chestnuts being so
much better than Chinese is wonderful -- James, may i quote you??
Thanks again, chris bolgiano