American Chestnut (Castanea dentata)

American Chestnut (Castanea dentata)

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Common Name(s): American Chestnut

Scientific Name: Castanea dentata

Distribution: Eastern United States

Tree Size: 100-120 ft (30-37 m) tall, 5-7 ft (1.5-2.0 m) trunk diameter*

*Because of the chestnut blight of the early 1900s, very few trees of this size currently exist

Average Dried Weight: 30 lbs/ft3 (480 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .40, .48

Janka Hardness: 540 lbf (2,400 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 8,600 lbf/in2 (59.3 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,230,000 lbf/in2 (8.48 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 5,320 lbf/in2 (36.7 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 3.4%, Tangential: 6.7%, Volumetric: 11.6%, T/R Ratio: 2.0

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a light to medium brown, darkening to a reddish brown with age. Narrow sapwood is well-defined and is pale white to light brown. Wormy Chestnut is also seen, which is chestnut that has been damaged by insects, leaving holes and other discoloration in the wood.

Grain/Texture: Grain is straight to spiral or interlocked. With a coarse, uneven texture.

Endgrain: Ring-porous; 2-4 rows of large, exclusively solitary earlywood pores, numerous small latewood pores in dendritic arrangement; tyloses common; growth rings distinct; rays not visible without lens; apotracheal parenchyma diffuse-in-aggregates (short lines between rays).

Rot Resistance: Rated as very durable, though many trees killed by the chestnut blight of the early 1900s were left standing and eventually were damaged by insects.

Workability: Overall easy to work with both hand and machine tools. Chestnut splits easily, so care must be taken in nailing and screwing the wood. Due to its coarse texture, turning is mediocre. Glues, stains, and finishes well.

Odor: No characteristic odor.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although no adverse health effects have specifically been reported for American Chestnut (Castanea dentata), other types of Chestnut in the Castanea genus (C. sativa and C. mollissima) have been reported to cause skin irritation. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Because of the blight wiping out nearly all mature American Chestnut trees, its lumber is both rare and (relatively) valuable. Wormy Chestnut in particular is usually salvaged from old barns and other structures, and reprocessed and sold as reclaimed lumber. Prices are likely to be high for a domestic hardwood.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Flooring, rustic furniture, shingles, and reclaimed lumber.

Comments:  Caused by an accidentally introduced Asian bark fungus (Cryphonectria parasitica), the chestnut blight of the early 1900s was responsible for killing over three billion chestnut trees. The wood in these standing trees was subsequently damaged by insects, leaving holes and discoloration. The trees were then subsequently harvested and converted into lumber (called Wormy Chestnut). Between the nail holes, discoloration, worm and insect damage, Wormy Chestnut is preferred in applications where a rustic or unpolished appearance is desired.

Related Species:

Related Articles:

None available.

Scans/Pictures:

American Chestnut (Castanea dentata)

American Chestnut (sanded)

American Chestnut (sealed)

American Chestnut (sealed)

American Chestnut (endgrain)

American Chestnut (endgrain)

American Chestnut (endgrain 10x)

American Chestnut (endgrain 10x)

Wormy Chestnut

Wormy Chestnut (sanded)

Wormy Chestnut (sealed)

Wormy Chestnut (sealed)

  • Jamie Jo Brinkman

    The house we purchased is an 1880 era queen anne balloon frame and was built by a very prominent man named William Sickels and his wife Isabel. It is written in historical texts that this house was the most “elegant” in the township and that the entire house was built using wood from his own land….this land. I believe it may have American Chestnut flooring on both stories. It was hidden underneath multiple layers of plywood…tile and other stuff.

    My huaband and I have uncovered it. There are multiple layers of paint on it. I hand scraped a little portion of it. We thought it to be pine until I was researching the history of this house out and found that chestnut was common in the time this house was built. It is tongue and groove flooring.

    Would anyone be interested in helping me identify this wood flooring?

    twistedgypsychild@gmail.com

    • Hbrogan

      You are. LIAR and a Thief. You only know how to con and scam people to get whatever it is you want. You STOLE from a friend of 15 years. All because of something as petty as a phone bill. You STOLE a personal laptop, a phone and a tablet computer. You ran and hid and wouldn’t even discuss the situation with this,friend when they tried, CALMLY, to talk to you. You have ignored all contact as you KNOW that you have STOLEN these items. No matter what whining, crybaby comments you make on Facebook. You posted thre that YOU broke off contact because of “accusations” of theft. Well, that was after WE babysat YOUR two dogs so you could play the bar-whore for the better part of two months. Only popping in for 10 or 15 minutes at a time to check,on them. You couldn’t, or wouldn’t, even buy them food. Instead, that was left to us to take care of.

      I am not “anonymous” and I am not going to hide behind the computer. Moyou want this to be over and you can go about your business?? Well, simply return what you have STOLEN and I’ll go away and you’ll never hear from me again. If not…well, you can see that I won’t hesitate to make this a very public matter.

      And, again. There’s not one damn thing you can do about it. After all, I am posting FACTS that you cannot deny. You can AVOID them, but you can’t DENY them.

    • andanotherthing

      YOU haven’t “purchased” anything. You’s a scam artist. NOTHING MORE.

  • Jenny Valentine Baxter

    I have a huge American chestnut that needs to come out and I’m trying to figure out how much it would be worth and how I can find a buyer. I have no idea where to start. Any ideas?

    • Stephen Bannasch

      If you have a large tree then it is resistant to the Chestnut blight. Consider contacting the American Chestnut Foundation and have them collect and start some seedlings from your tree: https://www.acf.org/ before cutting it down.