Scientific Name: Castanea dentata
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2004
Last COSEWIC Designation: Endangered
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Image of American Chestnut
American chestnut is a member of the beech family. It is the only species of chestnut native to Canada. It has elongate leaves tapered at both ends and large teeth along the margins. Flowers are arranged in catkins with numerous tiny male flowers and a cluster of several female flowers at the base of some of the catkins. When cross-pollinated with another chestnut tree by an insect pollinator, the female flowers develop into spiny bur-like fruits enclosing one to several chestnuts. This species once was a dominant tree in many areas of the eastern deciduous forests of North America, but has been greatly reduced by the introduction of the chestnut blight disease a century ago. (Updated 2017/05/30)
Distribution and Population
This species occurs throughout eastern North America from southern Maine to southern Ontario and Michigan, south to Georgia to Mississippi. Remnants of once large populations of this tree still survive across most of its historical range in southern Ontario as well as most of the states within its range to the south. (Updated 2017/05/30)
The typical habitat is upland deciduous forests on sandy acidic soils, occurring with red oak, black cherry, sugar maple and beech. (Updated 2017/05/30)
This species is a shade-tolerant forest tree needing a canopy cover for effective seedling establishment. It produces both male and female flowers on the same tree in late spring to early summer. It is insect pollinated and requires cross-pollination for seed set. Nuts are produced in the fall of the same year and are sought after by squirrels, chipmunks and large birds that also disperse the seeds beyond the parent trees. (Updated 2017/05/30)
The introduction of the chestnut blight fungus in about 1904 devastated populations of this species throughout its natural range, including its Canadian distribution in southern Ontario. Most individuals are stump sprouts that never reach fruiting size. Recovery planning has identified possible hybridization with Asian species in native stands as another potential threat. (Updated 2017/05/30)
Federal ProtectionThe American Chestnut is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.
Most of the American chestnuts are on land belonging to public agencies such as conservation authorities, counties and districts, and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Several sites are protected through forestry management agreements which forbid the cutting of these trees.
Provincial and Territorial Protection
Status of Recovery Planning
Recovery Strategies :
Name Recovery Strategy for the American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) in Canada
Status First posting on SAR registry
American Chestnut Recovery Team
John Ambrose - Chair/Contact - Private consultant
Phone: 519-821-8653 Send Email
Greg Boland - Chair/Contact - University or college
Phone: 519-824-4120 Send Email
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
10 record(s) found.
- COSEWIC Status Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Assessments (1 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (1 record(s) found.)
- Recovery Strategies (1 record(s) found.)
- Orders (3 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Consultation Documents (1 record(s) found.)
- Recovery Document Posting Plans (1 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
COSEWIC Annual Reports
COSEWIC Annual Report - 2005 (2005)2005 Annual Report to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
Recovery Document Posting Plans
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