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 below to see examples and characteristics of the common species of chestnut or chestnut look-alikes.

Overview of Five Species

Chinese and American Chestnuts
Japanese Chestnut
European Chestnut
Allegheny Chinkapin
Chestnut Oaks, Beeches, and Horse Chestnuts

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 horse chestnut.


Print A Tree Identification Sheet

Download a Chestnut Identification PowerPoint Presentation

Fill out a Tree Locator Form


  • If you think you have an American chestnut tree, send us a freshly-cut 6-12 inch twig with mature leaves attached. Leaves should be from sunny exposure, if possible.
  • Press leaves between pieces of cardboard to flatten and prevent curling or crushing as they dry.
  • 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.
  • Spring or summer is the best time to collect samples for identification purposes.
  • 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.
  • 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 4 – 8 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 Collins
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:
Tom Saielli
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:
Ben Jarrett
Southeast Regional Science Coordinator
The American Chestnut Foundation
50 North Merrimon Avenue, Suite 115
Asheville, NC 28804

Canadian Residents – Please contact:
Canadian Chestnut Council
Please do not ship sample to TACF.

All other samples may be sent to:
Eric Jenkins
Meadowview Research Farms
29010 Hawthorne Dr
Meadowview, VA 24361