Culture: Grow in moist, well-drained, loams in full sun. Tolerant of summer heat and humidity. Established trees do well in dry conditions. If growing this tree at least in part for its edible nuts, planting more than one tree facilitates cross-pollination and generally produces a more abundant nut crop.
Noteworthy Characteristics: Native to China and possibly Korea, Chinese chestnut is a medium sized, low-branched, deciduous tree that typically grows 40′ (less frequently to 60′) tall with an open rounded crown. It is grown as an ornamental tree and/or for its edible nuts. It is noted for its resistance to chestnut blight which has nearly wiped out the native American chestnut (Castanea dentata). Chinese chestnut features oblong-lanceolate, coarsely toothed, dark green leaves (5-8″ long) that are soft green and pubescent beneath. Leaves turn varying shades of yellow in fall. Aromatic monoecious creamy yellowish-white flowers appear in catkins in late spring, the male flowers located at the top portion of the catkin and the female flowers located near the base. Flowers can be quite showy, albeit for a brief period. Flowers are followed by edible chestnuts which are encased in spiny dehiscent burs (2-3″ diameter), usually 2-3 nuts per bur. Although Chinese chestnuts are sometime sold in farmers’ markets, it is the Spanish chestnut, Castanea sativa, that produces the chestnuts most often sold commercially. Molissima comes from the Latin word for soft, in reference to the pubescent twigs and leaf undersides. Zones 4 to 8.
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