This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(ancient Latin name). Fagaceae. Chestnut. Fruit and ornamental trees, grown for their edible nuts and also for their handsome foliage and attractive flowers.
Deciduous trees, rarely shrubs: leaves alternate, serrate, elliptic-oblong to lanceolate: flowers monoecious, the staminate ones with 6-parted calyx and 10-20 stamens, in long, erect, cylindrical catkins; the pistillate ones on the lower part of the upper catkins, usually 3 together in a prickly involucre; ovary 6-celled: fruit a large brown nut, 1-7 together in a prickly involucre or bur: winter-buds with 3-4 scales: branchlets without terminal bud. - About ten species in the temperate regions of N. E. Amer., Eu., N. Africa and Asia.
The chestnuts are very attractive when in bloom. The handsome foliage is generally not injured by insects or fungi, but the whole tree is attacked by a serious disease known as the chestnut bark disease which has spread rapidly during the last years, chiefly in New York, Pennsylvania and the adjacent states. It was first discovered in 1904. It is caused by a fungus,
Endothia parasitica, which penetrates the bark, develops its mycelium in bark and sapwood, finally girdles the branch or trunk and causes the death of the portion above the infected place. The presence of reddish pustules on the infected area is a sure sign of the presence of this fungus. The cutting and destroying of the infected parts seems so far the only way of checking the spreading of the disease. This disease was without doubt imported with plants from eastern Asia, as the disease has been discovered recently in China on C. mollissima. The latter species and C. crenata seem much more resistant than the American and European varieties and there is much hope for a successful selection and breeding of resistant varieties and for keeping this disease under control,.as it is done successfully in China.
C. dentala and C. sativa are large-sized trees, while C. pumila and C. crenata usually remain shrubby. The coarsegrained wood is much used for furniture, railway ties and fence-posts, as it is very durable in the soil. The chestnut is extensively cultivated in Europe and eastern Asia and also in this country for its edible fruit. It grows best in well-drained soil on sunny slopes, and even in rather dry and rocky situations, but dislikes limestone soil. The American species is perfectly hardy North, while the European species is somewhat tenderer.
Propagated by seeds, sown in fall where there is no danger of them being eaten by mice or squirrels; otherwise they should be stratified in boxes and buried 1 or 2 feet deep in a warm soil until early spring, when they are sown in rows about 3 inches deep. If growing well, they can be transplanted the following fall or spring 2 or 3 feet apart from each other, and planted after three or four years where they are to stand. They are also increased by layers in moist soil. Varieties are usually worked on seedling stock or on sprouts by whipgrafting above the ground when the stock is just beginning to push into leaf. Crown-grafting, root-grafting and budding are also sometimes practised, but no method gives wholly satisfactory results, and usually only one-half take well. See Chestnut.
Fig. 833 . Tree, occasionally 100 ft.: leaves cuneate at the base, oblong-lanceolate, acuminate, coarsely serrate, nearly glabrous when young, 6-10 in. long and somewhat pendulous: flowers of heavy fragrance, in June or July: nuts about 1/2 in. wide. S. Maine to Mich., south to Ala. and Miss. S.S. 9:440-1. Em. 187. G.F. 10:373. F.E. 14, p, 30; 29, p. 895. - The tallest, most vigorous-growing and hardiest species. The nuts, though smaller, have a better flavor than the European varieties. Leaves said to have sedative properties; used in whooping-cough; bark astringent, tonic, febrifuge.
Fig. 833. Castanea dentata. (X 1/2)
A. Nuts 2 or more in one involucre and more or less compressed, usually broader than high.
B. Branchlets glabrous or at first with close white tomentum: Ivs. usually glabrous at maturity, often with close white tomentum while young. C. Leaves glabrous or nearly glabrous even while young.
cc. Leaves stellate-tomentose beneath while young. satlva, Mill. (C. vesca, Gaertn. C. Castanea, Karst.
C. vulgaris, Lam.). Fig. 834. Tree, 50-80 ft.: leaves oblong-lanceolate, often truncate or rounded at the base, coarsely serrate, slightly pubescent or tomentose beneath when young, nearly glabrous at length, 5-9 in. long, erect: nut over 1 in. wide. June. FromS. Eu. and N. Africa to China. Gn. 27, p. 292; 50, p. 389. Gng. 3:209. G.W. 8, p. 350, 385. - There are some garden forms with variegated leaves, and others, of which variety asplenifolia, Lodd., with laciniately cut and divided leaves is the most remarkable. Of several varieties cult, for their fruit, Paragon, a precocious kind, and Numbo, a variety with very large fruit, are the most extensively planted in this country. See Chestnut.
Sieb. & Zucc. (C. japonica, Blume. C. satlva variety pubinervis, Makino). Fig. 835. Shrub or tree, to 30 ft.: leaves elliptic or oblong-lanceolate, usually rounded at the base, acuminate, crenately serrate, or the teeth reduced to a long, bristle-like point, slightly pubescent when young, glabrous at length or only pubescent on the veins beneath, 3-7 in. long, erect: nut over 1 in. wide. Japan, China. S. I. F. 1:34. - Shrubby and very precocious; it usually begins to fruit when about six years old. Hardy as far north as Mass.
Fig. 835. Japanese Chestnut-Castanea crenata. (x1/3)
Fig. 834. Castanea sativa. (X1/2) bb. Branchlets pubescent, with spreading hairs: leaves soft-pubescent beneath, at least those toward the end of the shoots.
Blume. Tree, to 40 ft.: leaves oval-oblong to oblong-lanceolate, acuminate or short - acuminate, rounded or truncate at the base, 3 1/2-6 in. long, coarsely serrate, glabrous above, white - tomentose or nearly green, but soft-pubescent beneath, at least on the veins; petioles pubescent, with spreading hairs: nut about 1 in. wide; spines of the husk pubescent. N. and W. China. - Has proved perfectly hardy at the Arnold Arboretum and is to be recommended for its hardiness and large nuts.
aa. Nuts solitary, round, higher than thick.
Mill. Chinquapin. Shrub or small tree, rarely 50 ft.: leaves cuneate, elliptic-oblong or oblong-obovate, acute, serrate, teeth often reduced to bristlelike points, white - tomentose beneath, 3-5 in. long: fruit ovate, small, about 1/3in wide and 3/4-l in. long. May, June. From Pa. to N. Fla. and Texas. S.S. 9: 442-3. - Useful for planting on dry and rocky slopes; attractive when in flower, and again in fall with its abundant light green burs among the dark foliage. The closely allied C.
Nutt., in the southern states, grows only a few feet high, and has larger leaves and fruit
Vilmoriniana, Dode. Tree, to 80 ft.: branchlets glabrous: leaves oblong-lanceolate to lanceolate, long-acuminate, usually rounded at the base, the teeth mostly reduced to slender bristles, quite glabrous even while young, 4-7 in. long: fruit globose-ovate, about 1/2in. thick and slightly longer. Cent. China. - A valuable timber tree. Recently introduced by the Arnold Arboretum.