Content Detail

Chinese chestnut is resistant to chestnut blight which has almost wiped out the American chestnut. This non-native species produces spikes of creamy white flowers in summer. The edible nuts develop in sharp, spiny husks.

  • Family (English) Beech
  • Family (botanic) Fagaceae
  • Planting site City parkway, Residential and parks, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Mature height 40-60 feet
  • Mature width 40-60 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites
  • Season of interest midsummer, late summer, early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Broad
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Transplants well No
  • Planting considerations May be difficult to find in nurseries, Messy fruit/plant parts
  • Wildlife Small mammals
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat:

Native to China and Korea.

Bark color and texture :

Bark is gray-brown, ridged, and furrowed.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Leaves are elongated, alternate and simple, with coarsely toothed margins. Each tooth ends in a bristle tip. Leaves are dark green in summer and yellow to yellow brown in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Small white, male flowers on a pencil-thin spike which is 6 inches long. Female flowers are also small and white, borne in clusters near the base of the male flower spike. Trees flower in July and the flowers have a musty odor.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Fruit is edible nuts in a husk covered with numerous sharp spines.

Plant care:

The Chinese chestnut does best in full sun. It is tolerant of heat and drought and prefers acidic soil.

List of pests, diseases, tolerances and resistance:

Twig cankers are possible. The sharp, spiny husks surrounding the nuts can be hard to handle. It is resistant to chestnut blight.


Your support is vital to the Arboretum, where the power of trees makes a positive impact on people’s lives.

Make a gift