|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Chestnut. Three species of tree or true chestnuts are cultivated in this country for their nuts,—the European Castanea sativa, the American Castanea dentata, the Japanese Castanea crenata. See Castanea. The horticultural characters that distinguish these three types are as follows:
European chestnuts.—Tree large, with a spreading but compact head, stocky, smooth-barked twigs and large glossy buds of a yellowish brown color; leaves oblong-lanceolate, abruptly pointed, with coarse sometimes incurved serrations, thick and leathery, generally pubescent beneath when young, but green on both sides when mature. Burs very large, with long branching spines, and a thick velvety lining. Nut larger than American chestnut, sometimes very large, shell dark mahogany-brown, pubescent at tip, thick, tough and leathery; kernel inclosed in a thin tough and astringent skin: quality variable from insipid, astringent to moderately sweet. The leaves remain on the trees until late in autumn, but are more susceptible to the attacks of fungi than the American and Japanese species. At least one variegated and one cut-leaved variety are grown as ornamentals. This species is variously known as European, French, Spanish and Italian chestnut (Castanea sativa), and sweet chestnut of English writers. It is an inhabitant of mountain forests in the temperate regions of western Asia, Europe and north Africa, and is esteemed for its nuts in Spain, France and Italy, where they have constituted an important article of food since an early day. Introduced to the United States by Irenee Dupont, at Wilmington, Delaware, in 1803, although recorded by Jefferson, under the designation "French chestnut," as grafted by him on native chestnut near Charlottesville (Monticello), Virginia, in 1773.
American chestnut (Castanea dentata).—Fig. 911. A tall straight columnar tree, in forests reaching a height of 100 feet and a diameter of 3 to 4 feet; when grown in the open, forming a low round-topped head of slightly pendulous branches. Leaves thinner than in C. sativa, oblong-lanceolate, acute, long-pointed at the apex, coarsely serrate except toward the wedge-shaped base, green and glabrous on both surfaces, changing to bright clear yellow later in autumn. The staminate flowers open in June or July after leaves have attained full size, and exhale a sweet, heavy odor, disagreeable to many persons, and sometimes causing symptoms of hay-fever. The two- or three-flowered involucres of pistillate flowers are on short stout peduncles at the bases of androgynous aments which bear toward their tips scattered clusters of staminate flowers. Burs smaller and spines sharper than in C. sativa. The nuts, usually two or three, rarely five to seven, are usually broader than long, and much compressed by crowding, although sometimes nearly oblong and approaching cylindrical. They are of a bright brown color, covered at the apex with thick pale tomentum, which sometimes extends nearly to the base of the nut. The nuts are sweet and agreeable in flavor, the best among chestnuts, and are marketed in large quantities from the forests of the Appalachian region. Occurs in eastern North America, Maine to Georgia, westward to Michigan, Mississippi and Louisiana. Gradually receding from its southern areas from causes not yet understood. A few selected forms have been propagated by grafting.
Japanese chestnut (C. crenata). — Fig. 912. A dwarfish close-headed tree of slender growth, said to attain a height of 50 feet in Japan, with small buds: leaves, smaller than other chestnuts, lanceolate-oblong, usually pointed, with a truncate or cordate base, finely serrated, with shallow sharp-pointed indentations, whitish tomentose beneath, pale green above, less subject to injury by fungi than other species. Burs small, with a thin papery lining and short widely branching spines. Nuts large to very large, glossy, usually three, sometimes five or seven in a bur, usually inferior to the other chestnuts in quality, although good when cooked, and in a few varieties excellent in the fresh state. Many cultural varieties are recognized. Introduced to the United States in 1876 by S. B. Parsons, Flushing, New York.
Aside from these three types, there are certain dwarf and small-fruited castaneas known as chinquapins. The two native chinquapins may be contrasted as follows (page 682)
Common or tree chinquapin (C. pumila). — Fig. 913. A shrub 4 or 5 feet tall, rarely a tree, attaining a height of 50 feet, with slender branchlets marked with numerous minute lenticels, and coated with a pale tomentum, which disappears during the first winter. Leaves oblong, acute and coarsely serrate at apex, bright yellowish green, changing to dull yellow before falling in autumn. Flowers strong-smelling, the catkins of staminate ones appearing with the unfolding leaves in May or June, the spicate androgynous aments later, with pistillate flowers in spiny involucres, producing solitary cylindrical nuts ¾ to 1 inch in length and ⅓ inch in diameter, with sweet seeds. This species occurs in dry lands from southern Pennsylvania to Florida and Texas, and its nuts, which ripen earlier than the American chestnut, are esteemed for food and marketed in considerable quantities. The species is sparingly introduced to cultivation and in its native region is being somewhat grafted upon in place with the choicer varieties of chestnuts. It has some promise as a dwarfing stock but is subject to the troublesome fault of suckering rather abundantly. Two named varieties, the Fuller and the Rush, have been published and somewhat propagated. (Upper part of Fig. 913 illustrates common chinquapin our, and nut in natural size.) Apparent intermediates between this species and the American chestnut, probably of hybrid origin, are found in various localities from Pennsylvania southward and westward to southern Arkansas and eastern Texas, in some localities attaining truly arborescent proportions. (Lower figure in Fig. 913 illustrates bur of hybrid chinquapin.)
Bush chinquapin (C. alnifolia).—A shrub, rarely more than 3 feet in height, forming small thickets, by means of stolons, in sandy barrens. South Atlantic states, westward to Louisiana and Arkansas. Distinguished from C. pumila by larger, oval-lanceolate, mostly obtuse leaves, which are but slightly tomentose beneath, and by its larger nuts, which ripen earlier.
The cultural range of Castanea in America is not well defined, but extends from Florida and Texas to Massachusetts and Wisconsin, and on the Pacific slope. The three species cultivated in America thrive best on dry, rocky or gravelly ridges or silicious uplands, failing on heavy clays and on limestone soils unless deep, dry and rich.
Care of chestnut orchards.
Planted orchards are yet few in America, most of the extensive commercial efforts having consisted in the grafting of sprouts on rough lands where the American chestnut is indigenous. On such lands no cultivation is attempted, the brambles and undesired sprouts being held in check by occasional cutting in summer, or by pasturing with sheep. Much care is necessary to protect against damage of the sprouts by fire on such land. Clean cultivation, at least during the first few years, is probably best in planted orchards, although heavy mulching may be found a satisfactory substitute. The Japanese and some of the American varieties of the European species require thinning of the burs on young trees to avoid over-bearing, with its consequent injury to the vitality of the tree.
Varieties of chestnuts.
The varieties of the three species, although possessing many points in common, differ sufficiently in important characteristics to justify separate grouping for cultural discussion. As chestnut-culture is new in this country, it seems best to append descriptions of all the varieties which are in the American trade. For fuller discussion of cultivated chestnuts, see Nut Culture in the United States (Bull. Div. of Pomology, U. S. Dept. of Agric.), from which Fig. 913 is adapted; Nut Culturist, A. S. Fuller, 1896; European and Japanese Chestnuts in Eastern United States, G. Harold Powell (Bull. Del. Exp. Station), 1898; Nut Culture for Profit, Jno. R. Parry, 1897.
American Group. — Although the wild nuts exhibit wide variations in size, form, quality, productiveness, and season of ripening, but few varieties have been dignified by names and propagated. Solitary trees are frequently sterile, although producing both staminate and pistillate flowers, apparently requiring cross-fertilization to insure fruitfulness. This is especially true of planted trees of this species on the Pacific slope, where productive trees are reported to be rare. The susceptibility of the species to injury by leaf diseases, as pointed out by Powell, and the injury to nuts by larvae of weevils, are drawbacks to its extensive culture.
The following varieties are propagated to some extent: Dulancy— Bowling Green, Ky. Large, and of fine quality. Original tree productive, though isolated.
Griffin.—Griffin, Ga. A large, very downy nut, of good quality.
Hathaway.—Little Prairie Ronde. Mich. A large, light-colored, sweet nut, annually productive, frequently having five to seven nuts to the bur.
Ketcham.— Mountainville, N. Y. Above medium in size, oblong, tomentose, sweet. Tree productive and vigorous in heavy sod at fifty years of age.
Murrell.—Coleman's Falls, Va. A large, high-flavored nut, bearing three nuts to the bur. Otto.—Otto, Tenn. Large, oblong, very downy at tip, very sweet, and rich. Rochester.—Rochester, N. Y. First fruited at Alton, Ill. Nuts medium to large; somewhat rounded, usually three in a bur; of dull brown color, downy at tip; quality excellent. Tree a very rapid grower and a heavy bearer; ripens late.
Watson.—-Fay. Pa. Medium to large, slightly downy, compressed, very good.
European Group.—It is a significant fact that, during the century that has elapsed since the introduction of this species, the imported named varieties of Europe have not found favor in eastern America. Seedling trees have been found productive and profitable at many points in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, however, and these form the basis of the culture of the species east of the continental divide. West of the Rocky Mountains, several of the choice French "Marrons" are reported to succeed in California and Oregon. Among the more important varieties of the European group in America, are the following:
Anderson,—Flushing, N. J. Bur medium to small; nuts of medium site, bright reddish brown, pubescent at the tip and over half of the nut. Tree a strong grower, with medium to small leathery leaves. Very productive.
Bartram.-—Milltown, Pa, Bur medium to small; nut medium, thickly pubescent at tip, dark reddish mahogany color; three in a bur; unusually free from insect attack; quality good. Tree vigorous, spreading, with large leaves; productive.
Combale (Marron Combale).—France. A large and handsome, bright brown striped nut, with but little tomentum at tip; usually two, sometimes but one in a bur. Somewhat grown in California, where it was introduced from France about 1870.
Chalon (syn., Marron Chalon Early).— France. Sparingly grown in California. Nut of medium size, early, productive, precocious.
Corson, — Plymouth Meeting, Pa. Bur large, with thin husk; nuts large, usually three in a bur; dark brown, ridged, heavily pubescent at tip; quality very good. Tree vigorous, spreading, very productive.
Dager,—Camden, Del. Bur medium; nut medium to large, dark brown, thickly tomentose, usually three in a bur; quality good. Tree vigorous, spreading, productive; a seedling of Ridgely.
Darlington.—Wilmington, Del. Bur medium to small; nut medium to large, usually three in a bur; dark, distinctly striped, thickly tomentose at tip; sweet, good. Tree vigorous. One of the earliest to ripen of this group.
Lyon (Marron de Lyon).—France. A large, round nut of fair quality, grown in a small way in California, but less productive than Combale, which it resembles.
Marron.—This term is used by the French to designate the larger cultivated chestnuts, most of which have relatively few nuts, often only one in a bur.
Moncur.—Dover, Del. A seedling of Ridgely. Bur medium; nuts medium, of light color, heavily tomentose. Tree vigorous, spreading, very productive.
Nouzillard.—France. A large, handsome variety from central France, and there considered very productive and valuable. Has been tested in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California without marked success in any locality.
Numbo. — Morrisville, Pa. Bur medium conical; nut large, from two to three in a bur; bright brown striped, thinly tomentose, of good quality. Tree compact and drooping, rather uncertain in bearing. Paragon (syn., Great American; Sobers Paragon).—Germantown, Philadelphia, Pa. Bur very large; nut large, usually three in a bur, broad, plump, thickly tomentose at the tip, and thinly over two-thirds of surface, color dull brown, quality very good. Tree hardy, spreading, vigorous, with narrow, coarsely serrate leaven having a narrow base; subject to leaf-blight, but very productive. The most widely planted and most uniformly successful variety of chestnut yet cultivated in the United States. Possibly a hybrid with C. dentata.
Quercy (syn., Marron Quercy).—France. A beautiful, medium-sized nut, commended in portions of California for precocity, earliness, productiveness and quality.
Ridgely (syn., Du Pont).—Dover, Del. Bur medium; nut medium to large, moderately tomentose, dark, of very good quality. Tree vigorous, with narrow leaves free from blight, spreading, very productive, hardy.
Scott—Burlington, N. J. Bur medium; nut medium, slightly pointed, usually three in a bur; glossy, dark brown, slightly tomentose at the tip. Tree open, spreading, very productive; said to be comparatively free from attacks of weevil. Styer.—-Concordville. Pa. Bur medium; nut medium pointed, dark brown, striped, tomentose at tip, 1 to 3 in a bur. Tree very vigorous, upright, with large, dark green leaves; free from disease.
Japanese Group.—Though most of the imported Japanese chestnuts have been found of poor quality for eating in the fresh state, the product of many imported seedling trees, and of a number of American-grown seedlings of this type, is equal to the European nut in this respect. The Japanese varieties in general have the advantage, also, of greater precocity and productiveness, larger size and earlier maturity of nut, greater freedom from injury.by leaf diseases and nut-eating insect larvae. As productiveness and earliness are the most important points in chestnut-culture at the present time, this type is the most important to commercial nut-growers. Because of the ease with which chestnuts hybridize, the disease-resistance of varieties that have originated from seed produced within the habitat of the American chestnut must be regarded as doubtful until thoroughly tested. Information as to the place of production of the seed from which the several varieties originated is therefore of importance in selecting varieties for planting. The more important named varieties are as follows: Alpha.— New Jersey. Bur medium; nuts medium to large, generally three in a bur, dark, of fair quality, ripening very early. Tree upright, very vigorous and productive. Originated in New Jersey from seed of Parry.
Beta.—New Jersey. Bur small; nut medium, light brown, smooth, slightly tomentose at tip, good; ripening just after Alpha. Seedling of Parry.
Biddle.—New Jersey. First fruited in Maryland. Bur medium: nut large, bright brown, broad, rather thickly tomentose, two to five in a bur; of medium season and fair quality. Tree regular, round-headed, vigorous. Grown from imported seed.
Black (syn.. Dr. Black).—New Jersey. First fruited in Maryland. Bur large; nut medium to large; three to seven in a bur, consequently irregular in shape; dark brown, slightly tomentose, very early and of good quality. Tree round, close-headed, vigorous, productive. Grown from imported seed.
Boone.—Villa Ridge, Ill. Fig. 917. A hybrid between Giant and a native chestnut. Bur of medium size; nuts large, usually three in a bur; of light brown color, rather heavily tomentose; quality very good. Tree vigorous, precocious and productive, nuts ripening early. Considered difficult to propagate.
Coe.—California. A large, very sweet variety, but recently disseminated. Tree upright, somewhat spreading. Grown from imported seed.
Fellon.—New Jersey. First fruited in Delaware. Bur small; nut medium, dark brown, slightly tomentose, rather early and of excellent quality. Tree round-headed and fairly productive. Grown from seed of an imported tree.
Giant.—Japan. A trade name, under which a number of varieties have been imported from Japan. See Parry.
Hale (syn.. Eighteen Months).—California. A newly introduced variety, having a large, dark brown nut of excellent quality. Very precocious. Grown from imported seed.
Kent (syn.. Extra Early).—New Jersey. First fruited in Delaware. Bur small, nut medium to large, dark, usually three in a bur; very early, of good quality. Tree round-headed, precocious, productive. Grown from seed of an imported tree.
Kerr.—New Jersey. First fruited in Maryland. Bur small; nut medium to large, dark brown, broad, three in a bur, early, and of excellent quality. Tree vigorous, symmetrical, round-headed, very productive. Grown from imported seed.
Killen.—New Jersey. First fruited in Delaware. Bur very large; nut very large, broad, light brown, slightly ridged, of excellent quality, midseason. Tree upright, open, spreading, moderately vigorous, productive. The largest chestnut yet brought to notice. Grown from seed of an imported tree.
Mammoth.—A trade name for the imported Japanese nuts and trees, not restricted to any particular variety.
Martin (syn., Col. Martin).—New Jersey. First fruited in Maryland. Bur large; nut large to very large, broad, bright reddish brown, slightly tomentose, three to five nuts in a bur. Midseason; of good quality for cooking. Tree vigorous, open, spreading, productive. Grown from imported seed. McFarland.—California. Bur very large; nut large, and of fine quality; early. Tree spreading, very productive. A newly disseminated variety of great promise. Grown from imported seed.
Parry.—Japan. Bur very large; nut very large, one to three in a bur, broad, with apex sometimes depressed; dark brown, ridged, of fair quality. Tree moderately vigorous, open, spreading, with large leaves. One of the largest and most beautiful of this group. Selected for propagation as the best of 1,000 imported grafted Japanese chestnuts.
Prolific.—Japan. Bur small: nut medium, rather long, striped, three in a bur; early. Tree vigorous, compact, with small narrow leaves.
Reliance.—New Jersey. Bur medium; nut medium to large, rather long, light brown, ridged; midseason, and of fair quality. Tree dwarfish, spreading, drooping, very precocious and productive; inclined to overbear, and needs thinning. Seedling of Parry. Tree upright, productive.
Superb.—New Jersey. Bur very large; nut very large, usually three in a bur; midseason; of rather poor quality until cooked. Seedling of Parry. Wm.A.Taylor.
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|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Propagation of species is by seeds. Certain types reproduce their striking characteristics in their seedlings, but varieties are perpetuated by grafting, occasionally by budding. Seeds for planting should be free from insect larva, and should not be allowed to dry out before planting. They may be planted in drills in fall on deep and well-drained loam, or, to avoid damage by rodents, may be stratified in damp sand until spring. Nuts held in cold storage at 15° F. from October to April have germinated well at Washington, D. C. Young trees destined for removal to orchard should be transplanted in nursery at one year old, to promote symmetrical development of root system. Grafting may be done on any of the species of Castanea, and on some of the oaks, notably the chestnut oak, Quercus Prinos, though the durability of grafts on the oak is questionable. Where the chestnut is indigenous, bearing orchards of improved varieties are quickly secured by cutting down and removing the timber, and grafting the young sprouts which spring up in abundance about the chestnut stumps (Fig. 914). Recently the chinquapin has been similarly used with good success where chestnut does not occur. Grafting may be by splice method on one-year-old seedling roots; by splice or cleft at crown on two- or three-year trees in place; or by veneer, splice or cleft methods on one- to three- year-old sprouts or branches. Top-working of old trees is uncertain and practised only in special cases. Cions should be dormant, and work may be done at any time after freezing ceases, but in trunk- and branch-grafting best results are secured by most grafters if work is done after leaves begin to unfold. Two- or three- bud scions are preferred. The fitting of cion to cleft or splice and the waxing should be carefully done. If strips of waxed muslin are wrapped about the stubs, the danger of loss by summer cracking of wax is lessened. In cleft-grafting young sprouts or seedlings, the stub should be cut 2 or 3 inches above the departure of a branch, to prevent too deep splitting of cleft. Two or three weeks after growth begins the waxing should be inspected and repaired if cracked. If grafts make rank and brittle growth they should be checked by pinching, and if in exposed situations, tied to stakes to prevent breaking out of cions. Budding is sometimes practised, usually by use of dormant buds inserted in shoots of previous year, when the bark "slips" after growth has begun in spring. There is a growing conviction in the minds of close observers that certain of the popular varieties, especially Paragon, under certain conditions do not find the American chestnut a congenial stock. In several orchards, Paragon, when grafted on native sprouts, although apparently making a good union at the start, has within eight to ten years developed weakness at the point of union, followed by loss of vigor and death of the top without other apparent cause than lack of congeniality of cion to stock. For this variety, at least, the grafting upon seedling stocks grown from nuts of the variety appears advisable. The chestnut is admirably adapted to ornamental planting, either singly or in groups on suitable soils.
The native species is successfully used as a roadside tree in many sections outside of its natural range. It requires a space of at least 40 feet for development when thus used, the European species 30 feet, and the Japanese 20 feet. If in orchard, the last-mentioned may be planted as close as 20 feet, and thinned when the trees begin to crowd, thus securing several crops of nuts from land otherwise unoccupied. CH
Pests and diseases
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Leaf diseases are apparently subject to control by bordeaux mixture, but for the weevils, which damage the nuts previous to maturity, no satisfactory remedy has yet been discovered except the yarding of poultry in sufficient numbers to destroy the adult insects and their larvae when they reach the ground.
The most serious difficulty confronting the present or prospective chestnut-grower in North America is the chestnut-bark disease which, during the last decade, has worked havoc in the native chestnut forests throughout a region of country extending from central Connecticut through southeastern New York, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania into northern Delaware, northeastern Maryland and northern Virginia. As this region contains most of the commercial plantings of improved chestnuts they have also suffered severely, especially since about 1908. The distribution of the native chestnut, together with the known distribution of the disease February 1, 1912, is shown on the accompanying map (Fig. 915), which was prepared by Metcalf to accompany a special report on the disease in response to a resolution of the United States Senate.
This disease, caused by a parasitic fungus (Diaporthe or Endothia parasitica), attacks trees of all ages and kills by girdling at various points. It is known to attack all species of chestnut and chinquapin grown in this country, although some, at least, of the Japanese varieties, are practically resistant, so far as observed. A few cases of the disease have also been found on living trees of the chestnut oak in Pennsylvania, though with less evidence of destructive effect than on chestnut. The disease is spread by the spores of the fungus, which are sticky, and are carried by rain, insects, and man, and probably by birds and small mammals. It is known to have been carried on nursery stock for long distances and is easily transported on newly cut timber and cordwood from which the bark has not been removed. Infection frequently occurs through wounds made by bark-borers.
Although first attracting attention in New York City in 1904, it appears certain that it had secured a firm foothold in southeastern New York, including Long Island and adjacent portions of Connecticut and New Jersey, prior to that time, there being some indication that it was introduced from Japan, although satisfactory evidence of this is still lacking. The presence of the disease in chestnut forests in China was discovered by Meyer in 1913, where, upon an unidentified species of chestnut, it is reported to be less virulent than in American chestnut forests.
For several years after publication of the cause of the disease by Murrill, in 1906, little effort was made in a systematic way to accomplish its control until 1911. when the legislature of Pennsylvania appropriated $275,000 for this purpose and inaugurated a state-wide, two-year campaign of eradication. The work is being done in cooperation with the Federal Department of Agriculture which, since 1907, has been investigating the disease with a view to developing effective methods of controlling it. Several other chestnut-producing states are also giving more or less attention to the problem. Up to the present time, systematic cutting out of infected trees coupled with destruction of their bark by fire has proved the only practicable control method. This is being vigorously applied in Pennsylvania and those portions of Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia in which the disease has appeared.
In forests, the disease is exceedingly difficult to eradicate after it has once gained a foothold, owing to the minute examination of the entire tree which is required to locate infections in their early stages. In any district in which there is a general infection of the forests, the only practicable course is to clear off the timber while it is sufficiently sound to be merchantable.
The relative disease-resistance of the Japanese chestnuts, coupled with their precocity and productiveness, renders them now the most promising sorts for the American chestnut-grower. Planted in sections outside of the native range of the American chestnut, they may reasonably be expected to remain practically free from the disease, especially if care is exercised to prevent its introduction from infested regions on nursery stock or cions. The poor flavor and eating quality of most of these varieties is their worst fault, but in view of their wide range of variation in this respect, the problem of producing resistant varieties of good quality appears relatively simple. The few trees of Korean and Chinese chestnuts thus far grown in the eastern United States are apparently quite resistant to the disease and therefore of much interest to the tree breeder as parents of possible resistant forms. Systematic work on the breeding of resistant varieties is being prosecuted in the Bureau of Plant Industry. CH
Castanea alnifolia - Bush Chinkapin*
Castanea crenata - Japanese Chestnut
Castanea dentata - American Chestnut
Castanea henryi - Henry's Chestnut
Castanea mollissima - Chinese Chestnut
Castanea ozarkensis - Ozark Chinkapin
Castanea pumila - Allegheny Chinkapin
Castanea sativa - Sweet Chestnut
Castanea seguinii - Seguin's Chestnut
* treated as a synonym of C. pumila by many authors
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963