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
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.
ID SHEETS, FORMS, & PRESENTATIONS:
HOW TO SUBMIT A LEAF & TWIG SAMPLE:
- 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:
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:
3 Scenic Way
Middletown, NJ 07748
If your sample is from NY, PA, DE, OH, or IN, send to:
North Central Coordinator
Penn State University
206 Forest Resources Lab
University Park, PA 16802
If your sample is from Maryland, send to:
3501 Big Woods Road
Ijamsville, MD 21754-9421
If your sample is from VA or WV, send to:
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:
Southeast Regional Science Coordinator
The American Chestnut Foundation
50 North Merrimon Avenue, Suite 115
Asheville, NC 28804
All other samples may be sent to:
Meadowview Research Farms
29010 Hawthorne Dr
Meadowview, VA 24361
QUESTIONS ABOUT SENDING A LEAF & TWIG SAMPLE? CONTACT US!