Identifying American Chestnut Trees

This page is designed to help you distinguish among several species of the chestnut family (Castanea) commonly seen in North America. Also included are three non-chestnut species that are often confused with chestnut.

Click on the names on the right to see examples and characteristics of the common species of chestnut or chestnut look-alikes.

A good place to start is to compare American and Chinese chestnuts. Over 80% of the leaves that are sent to us each year for identification are either from Chinese chestnuts or Chinese/American hybrids, because these trees are resistant to the chestnut blight. Also compare true American chestnut with three trees often confused with chestnut: chestnut oak, beech, and horsechestnut.

Print A Tree Identification Sheet

Download a Chestnut Identification PowerPoint Presentation

Fill Out a Tree Locator Form


TO SEND US A LEAF & TWIG SAMPLE:

  1. If you think you have an American chestnut tree, send us a freshly-cut 4-6 inch twig with mature leaves attached. Leaves should be from sunny exposure, if possible.
  2. Press leaves between pieces of cardboard to flatten and prevent curling or crushing as they dry.
  3. To prevent mold, do not put the sample into a plastic bag. Crushed or bent leaves are much harder to analyze, as are leaves that are not freshly collected.
  4. Spring or summer is the best time to collect samples for identification purposes.
  5. Please don't send photos without mailing in a leaf sample as well.  The pictures can actually help in the identification.  We may not be able to ID solely from a picture, but it can add to the whole package of understanding your tree.
  6. Please be sure to include the Tree Locator Form, so we can keep track of your sample and send you results. This form is vital for our inventory of wild trees. Results can take up to 3 - 6 weeks, depending where they are analyzed. You will get your results by mail or email.

 

Where to Send Samples
If your sample is from ME, VT, NH, CT, MA or RI, send to:
Kendra Gurney
New England Regional Science Coordinator
Northern Research Station, US Forest Service
705 Spear Street
South Burlington, VT 05403
If your sample is from New Jersey, send to:
Tony Rosati
3 Scenic Way
Middletown, NJ 07748
If your sample is from NY, PA, DE, OH, or IN, send to:
Sara Fitzsimmons
North Central Coordinator
Penn State University
206 Forest Resources Lab
University Park, PA 16802

If your sample is from Maryland, send to:
Gary Carver
3501 Big Woods Road
Ijamsville, MD 21754-9421

If your sample is from VA or WV, send to:
Matt Brinckman
Mid-Atlantic Regional Science Coordinator
900 Natural Resources Drive
Charlottesville, VA 22903

If your sample is from NC, SC, TN, AL, MS, KY or GA, send to:

Tom Saielli
Southeast Regional Science Coordinator
The American Chestnut Foundation
160 Zillicoa Street, Suite D
Asheville, NC 28801
 
 

Canadian Residents -
Please contact the
Canadian Chestnut Council chestnut.outreach@yahoo.ca
519-823-1458
Please do not ship sample to TACF.

All other samples may be sent to:

Dr. Fred Hebard
TACF Chief Scientist
Meadowview Research Farms
29010 Hawthorne Dr
Meadowview, VA 24361
 
 

Questions about sending a leaf sample?
Contact us