American Chestnut in the Lower Mainland?

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

  1. Jake Sherlock

    Jake Sherlock Active Member

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    O.. geez. I'm sorry to hear about this for sure. I've stood there in the parking lot admiring that tree more than once..garnered some questioning looks alright. Such a huge part of local history. Personally, I think some creative thinking should apply in this case and find a way to save it even if it's grafting some life elsewhere. Frankly, I don't but the rot story one bit. It's likely a view issue with the new build right there.. If it got saved someone would probably "bore" it and poison it anyway...remember the West End debacle?
     
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  2. BC Forager

    BC Forager New Member

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    I’m trying to determine if we have two American Chestnut trees growing on our property here in Maple Ridge, BC. I have read that the species is endangered and if so I am hoping maybe we can help in any way with the two trees that we have. We have lived on our property since 2010. We have 5 acres and about 3 of the 5 acres are second growth forest where these chestnut trees are. They are growing next to Big Leaf Maple trees, Fir, Cedar, Hemlock.

    The larger of the two is approx 60 feet tall with a base trunk diameter of approx 18 inches. The smaller one right next to the larger one is approx 30 feet tall with a trunk diameter of approx 8 inches.
    Over the years we thought they may be chestnuts from what a friend told us but I never thought much about them until recently because they had never produced nuts and/or flowers or seed pods or anything that we noticed until this year.
    Currently they are producing the catkins on both trees. We are pretty sure we have never seen them produce these before but we could be mistaken. We definitely have never seen them produce nuts before.

    I have read that the American Chestnut can not self pollinate to bare fruit on it’s own and needs another one to do so. I’m hoping that maybe with the two of them having catkins this year that maybe they will produce fruit (nuts) this year but I’m not sure, do they need a different species of Chestnut to do reproduce with or can two of the same allow them to pollinate?

    Here are some pictures of our Chestnut trees on our property. I have sent pictures to the Canadian Chestnut Council to see if they think they are American Chestnut. The Canadian Chestnut Council is in Ontario. They also have a link to someone that can do DNA testing on samples to see the pedigree of the tree in question so I am going to try to do that too.

    Maybe UBC can also do DNA tests on these trees as well??
     
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  3. Jake Sherlock

    Jake Sherlock Active Member

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    Hello and welcome. Yes those are Castanea, but as I have learned a positive ID can be difficult. They could be Sativa or a Hybrid of some kind which is a possibilty.. The stance of your trees indicates to me Sativa or Dentata . The Asian chestnuts I have come across seem to have a squatter stance and very broad/wide leaf profiles. Those trees of yours are very nice mature examples imo although images of the giants of yesteryear in the eastern U.S. might suggest otherwise! There are tiny details in the leaves that can help with identification but when I queried here about positively identifying my trees via dna etc It was pointed out that California would be the place to look and I received no response from the Chestnut council(s) . Hope this helps.. Cheers, Jake on the Sunshine Coast.
     
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  4. BC Forager

    BC Forager New Member

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    Hi Jake. Thanks for the info. Did you fill out the inquiry form on the Chestnut council site here: https://www.canadianchestnutcouncil...Reporting a Chestnut in the Wild Form R01.pdf ? Did you contact Dr. Brian Husband at the University of Guelph to extract, sequence and analyze the DNA from submitted leaf samples? Apparently they have been doing this in Ontario for years as there used to be a native wild larger population of the American Chestnuts there before the disease wiped most of them out. I have sent emails to them all with pictures so hopefully it will go somewhere. This is another picture from a different side of the larger chestnut tree on our property. The smaller one is tucked in next to it on the left facing the tree. I'm hoping the smaller one doesn't get squashed out of room to grow to it's full potential due to the close proximity to the maple and cedar to it. I have been contemplating removing the one maple next to it but It pains me even thinking about removing any tree. Our forest could probably actually use some thinning as it seems overly dense with all of the different trees competing for space.
     

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  5. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    Your meadow property is gorgeous ! Classic old Fraser Valley

    do wildlife (birds et al) visit your place?
     
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  6. BC Forager

    BC Forager New Member

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    Thank you :) This is actually the first year that I didn't mow our field or side lawns at all. We let it all go wild and it's so wonderful to see how many wild flowers have come up. I've always wanted to let it go wild but my family battled me on it. The final decision to let it go wild was due to us becoming honeybee beekeepers this year. We also raise mason bees. I wanted as much close by natural wild forage for them as possible. So many more pollinators came this year. Lot's of beautiful butterflys and all kinds of native bees. The native bumble bees out number our honeybees. The field is now loaded with three kinds of clover, birdfoot trefoil, European and Russian dandelion, fireweed, st johns wart, canary grass, hyssop, daisy, etc. So much nicer to look at than green grass and so much more beneficial to nature. Along the border of the forest and the meadow are wild berry bushes that give lot's of beautiful blossoms too. On the forest border there are wild salmon berry, thimble berry, two kinds of black berry, elderberry, and red and blue huckle berry. We also have a small fruit and nut orchard with hazelnut, blueberry, black and red current, plum, cherry, and blue honeysuckle. I try to grow more in the way of food every year as well. We have a hot house greenhouse for tomatoes and I grow other veggies outside of the greenhouse as well.

    Yes we have lot's of wildlife come on our property. Our property backs onto Kanaka Cr regional park forest so we get lot's of wonderful creatures coming to visit us. We get deer, bear, coyote, racoon, bob cat, cougar, weasel, skunk, frogs, salamander, and lots of different birds. We just had a family of Junkos nest close to our house and watched the 4 babies hatch. We get towhee, chickadee, junkos, stellers jay, robins, gross beak, warbler, finch, thrush, hummingbirds, woodpecker, flicker, finch, etc. coming to visit us. I make fruit and nut suet for the birds that stay through winter and seeds for them coming out of winter too but stop feeding once there is lot's of natural forage for them.
     
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  7. BC Forager

    BC Forager New Member

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    A bit of an update on our chestnut trees on our property.

    I have been in contact with Dr. Brian Husband of the University of Quelph. I will be sending him samples of the chestnut trees on my property to get him to do the DNA testing on them.

    I asked him this "From the testing will you be able to tell exactly what kind of chestnut our trees are? I have read in North America there are several species that look similar to the American; like the Spanish, European, Chinese, or a hybrid etc. So will your test only be able to rule in or out if it’s the American or will it also be able to identify them if they are one of the other similar ones? Just wondering how conclusive is the testing."

    And he replied with this answer: "At the moment we can tell you whether the plant is either pure American chestnut, some other Castanea species (any of Japanese, Chinese, European etc), or a hybrid with other species. We can also tell which of two main lineages of American chestnut it might be, which allows us to trace the origins (east or west of Appalachians) of the trees."
     
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  8. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    Nancy Drew & the Mystery of the old Chestnut (in a place called Maple Ridge?! )

    Hmmm .

    seriously - this is fascinating - looking fwd to updates
     
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  9. BC Forager

    BC Forager New Member

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    Same here! I have been trying to find someone to do DNA testing on some mushrooms that I think are a unique BC species. So when I started reading about the American Chestnut almost being extinct, and the opportunity to get some testing done it really got me interested.

    I received some more correspondence from Dr. Brian Husband. I wrote to him this "Forgot to ask, what are the two lineages called that are east or west of the Appalachians?" He replied with this: "They have no formal names. Our recent work indicates significant differences between two groups which likely are associated with difference between south eastern and western populations. They also account for differences between Canadian populations and those in the N. US. I’ve attached a paper which shows this (see fig 2)."

    Here is the file he attached. It is very interesting. Much of it is far to scientific for me to understand as I'm not versed in the plant biology stuff at all but I can read between the lines a little bit lol. Interesting to note that there is very little hybrids found from all of the testing that has been done.
     

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  10. Jake Sherlock

    Jake Sherlock Active Member

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    BC Forager that's a great spot to live where you are for sure! Very interesting about the DNA thing. You're having better luck than I did. I haven't gone back to read but I may have posted about my foibles here a while back. I grew up and lived in the Upper Fraser Valley. There are several areas with Chestnut trees out there and I propagated about 100 a couple of years back believing them to be dentata. I know the nuts are smaller than chinese varieties.. Two falls ago I came across a small tree of the chinese variety and holy moly! It gets loaded with big nuts. I should have stratified a few but I gobbled them up pretty fast lol. The leaves are markedly different. Hopefully you will realize some nuts.. Is/was there flower this year? scour around on the underbrush under your trees looking for old husks...Squirrels and bears will clean house. Keep us posted!
    Georgia Strait that is very witty well done ! :)
     
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  11. BC Forager

    BC Forager New Member

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    Right on I would love to propagate some as well. Nice to see other folks here interested in nature.
    I have only eaten chestnuts once on Robson St downtown from a roasted chestnut street vendor. Not sure which variety they were but those ones were pretty mushy I remember. Hopefully this may be the year our two trees produce nuts but time will tell. Most of the catkins are up high were it's hard to see if there is female flowers mixed in but I assume if there are the male catkins then hopefully there should be female flowers too. This is the first year we are all pretty sure we have seen any catkins on them. I have read that the number of male catkins per female flower can be up to 100 times to 1 so it is hard to see female flowers from the ground. We know they have never produced nuts before. Bears and birds and squirrels go crazy for our hazelnuts so if there were nuts on the chestnuts there would be commotion going on at those trees lol and we can see them from our living room windows. I have read that an American chestnut can take anywhere from 5 to 15 years to be mature and produce fruit and that there has to be two or more of them to reproduce. So I have a theory that maybe the older larger one has been mature enough to produce fruit but maybe it had to wait until the one next to it got big and mature enough to be able to and that maybe why they both are now producing lot's of catkins.

    I have watched a youtube video on how to see the early forming female flowers on the chestnuts and they are tough to find and see when just forming and on our trees they are up quite high so I have an idea lol. I have a drone I use sometimes to film nature. I am going to try to fly it up close to all of the catkins to see if I can see female flowers forming too. If it's successful I will post any pics I get with the drone :)
    If they do successfully fertilize each other this year then I imagine it won't be until October/November where they will produce nuts but there should be evidence of them forming and growing before that too.
     
  12. BC Forager

    BC Forager New Member

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    This is a screenshot picture from this video on youtube:

    It shows a more developed female flower in between two male catkin flowers on a hybrid chestnut tree. When the female flower is first forming it is much smaller and hard to compared to all of the male catkin flowers.

    The lower branches on our two chestnut trees only have a few catkins on them while the majority of them are higher up on the tree so I can't get to them to see if the female flowers are forming into nut clusters yet. The female flowers will have to be successfully pollinated to start forming into nut clusters.
    I went and looked up at all the catkins today and saw lot's of our honeybees flying from catkin to catkin so that is a great sign that they are helping pollination along. Wind should help with that too. Time will tell. I sure hope we get nuts this year.
     

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  13. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    The following document contains detailed information on chestnut pollination: Washington Chestnut Company - Blank.
     
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