Chestnuts

Chestnuts

I can’t remember the last time I had a chestnut. But I do recall that I liked them very much. As I did my research on chestnuts, I soon learned why this nut isn’t as common in our country today as it might have been. In the early 1900s, the American chestnut tree, which made up a large portion of the hardwood forests in the east, was hit with the blight. Over the decades, the blight wiped out our chestnut tree population. 

Scientists have been working with cross-breeding programs to infuse the American chestnut with a small portion of blight-resistance Chinese chestnut attributes. These new trees are being tried out and introduced into the forests. How they will fare, and whether they will have a sufficiently large canopy to compete with the current hardwood trees, remains to be seen.

Throughout the major forests, root stock of the original American chestnut trees still exists. The blight only affects the part of the plant above ground. Unfortunately, the trees sprout again and again, but to this day the blight kills off the new growth. Here’s a fascinating video on the history of the American chestnut tree and the blight that decimated the trees in the east.

FunFacts about Chestnuts (Source) (Source)

  • The chestnut tree is part of the beech family of Fagaceae.
  • Chestnut trees are native to the Northern Hemisphere.
  • The four main types of chestnut trees are: European, Japanese, Chinese and American.
  • The ‘horse chestnut’ tree is only distantly related to the chestnut tree. Horse chestnut seeds are toxic. (Source)
  • Flowers appear in late spring or early summer.
  • The fruit is spiny and contains from 1-7 nuts when mature depending on the species.
  • In the early 1900s, though the American chestnut accounted for up to one-fourth of the forest hardwoods, the blight began to decimate the tree population. (See the video for a fascinating look at this part of chestnut history.) More about the blight: go here.
  • Chestnut trees have reddish-brown or grey bark that is smooth when the trees are young. As the trees age, the bark becomes rough and furrowed. In certain species, the bark looks like a net made of ropes.
  • The wood of the chestnut tree is similar to oak. Before the blight, a fully mature American chestnut tree could provide enough lumber to build one barn and one house. These trees were huge.
  • In the wild, chestnut trees can live from 200 to 800 years.

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*** This Week’s Giveaway is Closed ***

We have a winner! Congrats Kim S.!!!

November Winners: Tamara K., ELF, Grace W. and Catedid

October Winners: Bonnie C., Mary P., Marie S. and Karen M.

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*** This week’s giveaway! *** To be entered into the giveaway drawing, please leave a comment about chestnuts. Do you like to eat them? Have you ever grown a chestnut tree? Which photo did you like best! Feel free to share whatever comes to mind and share from the heart. 

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32 thoughts on “Chestnuts

  1. I have never eaten a chestnut, although I have wondered about them, having heard about them in song and read about them in the historical romance novels I love. I’m sure that was heartbreaking, having all of those trees die from blight. As always, thank you for the beautiful pictures…and I’m writing from the high desert in California…where it’s going to be cold (for Cali) tonight!

  2. I tried eating a chestnut once, but was not impressed and have never had another one.

    We often see them in the stores here.

  3. My husband and I tried them one year. I always heard about them in the Christmas song and we found some. I didn’t like it . I believe we wound up throwing the bag away. . I still enjoy the Christmas Song though.

  4. Although I love nuts of any kind I have never tried a chestnut. I love the picture of the flowers of the chestnut tree and the drive of chestnut trees. Thank you for the useful facts and here is hoping that the scientist are able to bring these trees back to are hemisphere.

  5. While reading about the chestnut, I remember my father (who will be 90 soon and was raised in the eastern back hills of Kentucky), telling me the difference in chestnut and hickory trees/nuts. I have also heard of horse chestnuts but did not realize they are very similar to buckeyes. Being an Ohio native I have seen many buckeyes and your pictures reflect more of what I considered or had been told were buckeyes rather than chestnuts. Thank you for that plant biology lesson! I truly enjoy walking through my neighborhood collecting buckeyes from the one tree I have found here. I learn something new when I read every one of your blog posts. Thank you so much!

  6. Chestnut roasting always sounded like fun, especially during the holidays. However, I have not tried it and don’t know anyone who has. Maybe I will go buy some and give them a fair chance. Thanks for the information. I am in southern Minnesota.

  7. We had chestnut trees in our yard as a kid. I have never liked the taste but as a kid my gramps would help us little kids drill holes in them and make necklaces. We loved them :).
    Living in NE Ohio.

  8. I can remember having chestnut fights with my brothers when we were kids.

    Darn, it really stung when you were beaned in the head.

    A relative had a chestnut tree so it was a tradition every time we visited.

    Even roasted, they tasted dreadful.
    But they felt nice in your hands because they were so smooth.

  9. Fascinating. Before reading this very informative blog my experience with chestnuts was the year I helped in my ex’s family business. They owned and operated a produce delivery company in Southern California. They would buy different produce from all over and deliver it where needed – like restaurants. The year my ex and I helped out they were doing chestnuts and it was my job to “peel” – “shell” them. https://youtu.be/ze04pjuCock I was expected to do all of them “perfect”. Needless to say, I developed a dislike of the chestnut because I thought them a pain – literally. The taste was okay, but so not worth the effort. Probably, if I didn’t have to be so fussy with the shelling, I would be okay with them. Just never had the desire to try them again.

    I don’t believe we had any chestnut trees when I was growing up on the farm. I don’t remember any. Black walnut on the other hand . . .

    I found this entire blog interesting. Thank you. I learned something about American history as well as that of the chestnut. A good day.

    Midwest Michigan

  10. The sixth picture looks like a brain lol! Anyways, I had no idea that these trees were wiped out by some weird tree disease. I just assumed we still had them. The things you learn on here lol. I keep singing that song in my head as I read this blog….chestnuts roasting on an open fire lol!

  11. We had a chestnut tree in our front yard–must have been horse chestnut. We use to drill holes in the seeds and string them on twine to make necklaces. And the beautiful blossoms that dropped were sticky and got all over EVERYTHING. It died when the tree was trimmed away from the electrical wires.

  12. What great pictures! I’ve only seen chestnuts in the grocery store so it’s very interesting to see how they grow. My mom remembers chestnut trees when she lived in Ohio and Pennsylvania as a child. Her grandpa used to take her to pick up the nuts.

  13. I’ve never seen a chestnut tree. I may have only eaten them a couple times in my life. Thank you for sharing the pictures. Now I know more and I think they are an amazing plant.

  14. So sad to have no more Chestnut trees here. I would rather have them, instead of the Hickory nut trees, and Oak trees with their acorns, which I have in my yard.

  15. I love chestnuts. I have a bowl of mixed nuts and my faves are chestnuts and pecans 😀 I love the second to last picture. Having a bowl of mixed nuts reminds of when I was kid living with my grandparents… my grandfather and I would sit in his chair and eat paper bags full of nuts he would pick-up.

  16. There are chestnut beams in the old house behind my grandparents’ house (not inhabitable). It was built in the late 1800s before most of the chestnuts died in the mountains of East Tennessee.

    denise

  17. Hi, Everyone,
    As always, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your stories and learning your preferences. I especially love the image of the chestnut necklaces. How fun that must have been!

    Hugs all around,
    Caris

  18. I love ALL the pictures you post in your Newsletter. Always so beautiful. I especially love the last two photos on the blog….the Forrest thick with trees and the flower at the end. I am not a fan of chestnuts but these pictures were gorgeous. Thank you!!

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