American Chestnut in the Lower Mainland?

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Daniel Mosquin, May 17, 2004.

  1. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    The following was received via email:

    Do you by any chance know a American Chestnut tree on the Lower
    Mainland?
     
  2. new

    If yor still intrested there is one in the native garden area at VanDusen. You may also want to check the book "OUR SYLVAN HERITAGE" that gives you locations
     
  3. angilbas

    angilbas Active Member

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    There may be some American Chestnut at the Agriculture Research Centre in Agassiz. Many non-native trees were planted at that station.

    I have seen this species in Nelson and Revelstoke. Chestnut trees (possibly Chinese) are also present in Creston.


    -Tony
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Similar-looking hybrid with Spanish Chestnut was distributed in past, some surviving large "American" chestnuts may actually be this. National Co-champion American Chestnut on Stillaguamish River in WA deteriorated suddenly a few years ago, had very little live foliage left when I last saw it. (See Robert Van Pelt's 1996 University of Washington Press book 'Champion Trees of Washington State' for a photo of this once inspiring tree).
     
  5. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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  6. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Re: American Chestnut in Portland, Oregon

    Portland isn't exactly the lower mainland, but I did see what I think is a real American Chestnut street tree when I was just there, and it's a good-looking tree. It's near Reed College, on Woodstock at 40th, northeast corner. The leaves are around 11 inches long, easily more than 3 times longer than broad, have 20-23 leaf veins, not hairy on the undersides of the leaves, leaf bases narrowed to the stalk and not notched (if I understand what that means - these are all listed as American Chestnut characteristics in Jacobson's Trees of Seattle).
    20090619_PortlandWoodstock40th_AmChestnut_Cutler_5277.jpg 20090619_PortlandWoodstock40th_AmChestnut_Cutler_5275.jpg 20090619_PortlandWoodstock40th_AmChestnut_Cutler_5281.jpg 20090619_PortlandWoodstock40th_AmChestnut_Cutler_5284.jpg
    20090619_PortlandWoodstock40th_AmChestnut_Cutler_5285.jpg 20090619_PortlandWoodstock40th_AmChestnut_Cutler_5289.jpg 20090619_PortlandWoodstock40th_AmChestnut_Cutler_5292.jpg
     
  7. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I'd not want to rule out Sweet Chestnut C. sativa from that. Chestnut leaves are very variable, even on a single tree, which makes species identification tricky. I've yet to find any really reliable key to identification.

    The leaves in the pic below are all from one C. sativa tree; the longest is over 30cm long.
     

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  8. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    I can understand the size question, but what about the narrowed leaf bases and the lack of hairs on the undersides (fourth photo is the underside of the leaf)? Those are supposed to be defining characteristics.
     
  9. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    The question (eight years ago) was whether there are any American Chestnut trees in the Lower Mainland. While looking for a canoe birch today in the Old Arboretum at UBC (we didn't find it - anyone know where that is?), we came across this tree with a sign that seems to have said "American Chestnut" (and I'm guessing the rest of the sign said "Eastern US"). I didn't remember at the time that I'd have wanted to demonstrate hairless leaf backs, so this is the best I came up with.

    Do you think this sign is right? Gerald Straley, in Trees of Vancouver, does say "no definitely identified specimens have been found". Presumably he knew this tree.
     
  10. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    The leaves as shown here are not distinguishable from Sweet Chestnut; whether that means anything or not I don't know. The bark is a bit more distinct, which might be significant.

    Is Gerald Straley contactable to find out if he knew of the tree?
     
  11. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    The abruptly tapering leaf base and late defoliation do not fit American chestnut. Dr. Straley is deceased.

    There is a table of how to tell them apart starting on page 93 of Jacobson, Trees of Seattle - Second Edition (2006) - although in his description of American chestnut (p. 93) he notes "the chief practical disctinction is in the American chestnut's smaller, sweeter nuts".
     
  12. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    So you think it is likely a Sweet Chestnut? Is there enough in the pics to key it out in Jacobson?

    Shame about Dr. Straley.
     
  13. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Here are three inconclusive leaves from the Old Arboretum tree, and some of the nuts, and the trunk.
    20121110_OldArboretum_Castanea_Cutler_P1360755.jpg 20121110_OldArboretum_Castanea_Cutler_P1360756.jpg 20121110_OldArboretum_Castanea_Cutler_P1360757.jpg
    20121110_OldArboretum_Castanea_Cutler_P1360759.jpg 20121110_OldArboretum_Castanea_Cutler_P1360761.jpg

    Jacobson's key says that American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) leaves average over 3 times longer than broad, easily, with some four times longer than broad. Two of these are over 3 times longer than broad, easily, actually over four times longer; the others not. For Sweet Chestnut, he says some leaves are only twice as long as broad - that's the case for one of these.

    Jacobson says the American Chestnut leaves are never fuzzy, while the Sweet Chestnut ones are often slightly fuzzy. I didn't notice anything fuzzy, which doesn't necessarily mean anything conclusive.

    Raw American Chestnuts fresh from the tree are small and delicious, but these are not fresh from the tree, and Jacobson doesn't say what the old ones should taste like.

    I forgot to go look at what are supposed to be Castanea sativa trees on my way home, but I have some photos from last month, October 10. I don't have a size comparison.
    10-2_20121010_20thCedarCrescent_CastaneaSativa_Cutler_P1340185.jpg 10-2_20121010_20thCedarCrescent_CastaneaSativa_Cutler_P1340187.jpg 10-2_20121010_20thCedarCrescent_CastaneaSativa_Cutler_P1340188.jpg 10-2_20121010_20thCedarCrescent_CastaneaSativa_Cutler_P1340189.jpg
     
  14. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Here is a young shoot from the ground near the UBC Old Arboretum tree. The smallest leaf looks sort-of fuzzy. Is that enough to say this is sweet chestnut and not American chestnut?
     

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  15. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    I'd call the timing of defoliation and shape of the broad-based, more deeply lobed leaves of the recently photographed BC trees Spanish. Any that are Spanish-American crosses such as 'Paragon' will have intermediate characteristics. Depending on what has been available there private and maybe a few public plantings will contain various hybrids involving several species. Burnt Ridge Nursery near Onalaska, WA has an entire hillside planting of all manner of such, perhaps the equivalent of a national collection.
     
  16. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Well, I was going to ask - what about this tree being American Chestnut? But then I read the last posting again, and it doesn't seem possible to do more than confirm that it's not Spanish Chestnut. People on my walk today thought it looked different from the Chestnut planted almost next to it (ok, they're mostly people who had never seen a chestnut before). I thought American Chestnut because the leaves are rather straight, easily 3 times longer than broad; it has more veins than the other tree on the same length leaf (19cm long, 6cm wide, 25 veins vs. 19 cm long, 8cm wide, 17 veins); there are no hairs on the leaf backs vs. lots of hairs; leaf bases are narrow. Here's the tree in question.
    20130710_BalfourHudson_CastaneaDentata_Cutler_P1500214.jpg 20130710_BalfourHudson_CastaneaDentata_Cutler_P1500238.jpg 20130710_BalfourHudson_CastaneaDentata_Cutler_P1500200.jpg 20130710_BalfourHudson_CastaneaDentata_Cutler_P1500202.jpg

    Here is a leaf comparison with the one planted almost next to it that seemed clearly Castanea sativa. The one in question is the one on the left in both photos.
    20130710_BalfourHudson_CastaneaCompare_Cutler_P1500217.jpg 20130710_BalfourHudson_CastaneaCompare_Cutler_P1500219.jpg

    Here's the Spanish one.
    20130710_BalfourHudson_CastaneaSativa_Cutler_P1500220.jpg 20130710_BalfourHudson_CastaneaSativa_Cutler_P1500239.jpg 20130710_BalfourHudson_CastaneaSativa_Cutler_P1500222.JPG

    Here's a big old private Castanea sativa a half-block away. I thought from a distance that the leaves looked like the tree in question, but the ones growing low off the trunk (not shown) look like the Spanish leaves.
    20130710_BalfourSelkirk_Castanea-OldTree_Cutler_P1500187.jpg 20130710_BalfourSelkirk_Castanea-OldTree_Cutler_P1500190.jpg
     
  17. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Still don't think Sweet Chestnut or hybrids can be ruled out.

    As an aside, Sweet Chestnut isn't Spanish, it is introduced there (probably by the Romans), it is native to SW Asia and SE Europe (Balkans). So Ron is wrong to call it "Spanish".
     
  18. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    European chestnut, Eurasian chestnut, Spanish chestnut, edible chestnut, sweet chestnut and Italian chestnut have all been used. Since these are all common names, none of them are wrong - and neither am I.
     
  19. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    A worryingly popular fallacy, but completely incorrect. Common names can be, and frequently are, wrong.

    Note that you have yourself for example often said that 'hawthorne' is wrong.
     
  20. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Anyone up for a discussion on what happens when an indestructible immovable object is hit by an indestructible irresistible force?
     
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  21. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Hawthorne is an unconventional spelling, obviously confusing hawthorn tree with Nathaniel Hawthorne etc., and not a choice of an entire non-technical term (common name, in this instance) being presented as though there was a scientific protocol giving it technical legitimacy.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2013
  22. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    At least we're not discussing which of you is the irresistible force.

    I'd like you to go back to your corners now, since I really like the topic of this thread, and would like to keep trying to understand what about this tree that seems so different makes it still possibly Castanea sativa.
     
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  23. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    American chestnut has a habit like a silver maple (including widely spaced slender twigs) and long, thin, pale dull green leaves that color and drop early, and dinky nuts. European chestnut is more rounded and dense, with broad, leathery, dark shiny green leaves that color and drop later, and bigger nuts. The general aspect like that of a head of broccoli shown in pictures of trees on this thread is consistent with European chestnut and not with the American species at all - it seems funny that at first the New World trees were thought to be the same species as back in Europe when people starting coming over from there.

    You see the same combinations in other species such as sugar and Norway maples, and so on - it's as if the general environment of eastern North America has cooked the species native there into being less green and dense than related or at least comparable species elsewhere.
     
  24. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    OK, thanks. That helps. Except I think the nuts in the arboretum tree in posting #13 look pretty dinky, and the tree fits your American Chestnut description of looking like a silver maple. The leaves are not uniformly convincing, though.
     
  25. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    The European hairs are shorter and more like down. The few persisting hairs on American leaves are scattered and silky. New plantings could be hybrids involving more than two species, if those are being sold and planted in BC.
     

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