American Chestnut

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.


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)
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Brandon Moore

Trying to identify this piece of wood. It’s very dence and light in weight

Jeff M Miller

I had posted this bf but not sure you received it. Sorry if its a duplicate. Trying to see if this is American Chestnut or oak. The burrs sure look like chestnut to me but it is possible the burrs were raked up and placed in the pile of the logs that were dumped. Found the log pile and burrs at my local firewood guy.

Paul C Briggs

Without doubt the burrs and nuts are chestnut. Moreover it grew near another living chestnut as the nuts are fertilized. They produce a shriveled nut otherwise. The bark is also about right as is the grain and color of the wood.

Michael McLaughlin

That is Oak, Chestnut has no rays.

Cpt. Jera

Wormy chestnut? Inner walls of 1908 farmhouse.

Cpt. Jera

I do believe you’re right. Using the Chestnut oak info in this database, looks like I found a match. So I was halfway right!
Darker image is from the db. Mine is on the right.
Thanks for your help!

Cpt. Jera

I guess I could understand that. All I was saying is that I based my guess of Chestnut oak upon the database end grain picture. It most closely matches my unsealed sample.

Cpt. Jera

Definitely tylosis in the pores, so white it is. Knowing that will give me a much better idea of how to use the few boards I’ve reclaimed. Lots of the same in beams and more in our old tobacco barn.
Really appreciate your feedback, Eric. Most helpful!
Put your book my Amazon wishlist.
Thanks again.


Trying to find more about the wood in my 1920, Maryland home. Seems a bit late for chestnut given the blight but I’m not sure. My first thought was fir.


We bought a house in Tennessee and someone who had partially stripped this door told us it is American chestnut. What do you think? Thanks for the great article.


thanks for confirming my suspicion.


My husband and I bought a house in Texas that was built in 1905. We were told that the wood in the house is unique and they don’t know if that means wood imported from Europe or some other rare type of wood. I tried to get some photos but there is a dark varnish on the wood in some places but I was hoping some could tell me what it is? I am a complete novice but it had certain characteristics I thought to American Chestnut pre blight so not wormy but then again I am a total novice.… Read more »


Could the flooring be Longleaf Pine or are you more inclined that is southern Yellow pine? I did try to make a dent with my fingernail in the flooring and was unable to make a mark so that’s why I thought it might not be a softwood. The entire house has boards on the walls and I was easily able to make a dent with my fingernails in those boards.

Martha Ryan

10 years ago,I purchased a home in Central New York that dates back to the late 1700’s. A section of the house has American Chestnut flooring. Are the boards valuable?

Paul C Briggs

Not from central New York they aren’t. There are virtually none left at all. Any tht are left should be protected. You can get white ash and stain it if it is slower grown. Black locust also can work as well. The more quarter sawn the better.
They do sell boards sawn from old reclaimed beams but they are usually wormy and cost around $20 a board foot!

Matt Cunkelman

I have a timber from an old barn in the northeastern US. I am curious if it is american chestnut. I calculated the specific gravity of this piece to be 32.75lb/ft^3.

End Grain.jpg
Miguel Camba

I am not familiar with american chestnut, but I am with European chestnut and i’m almost certain that you are correct.

Marge Feilner

My husband is refinishing a 100 plus year old table for a friend. We normally can tell what kind of wood they are made of but this table has us wondering if it is Chestnut as we have not seen furniture made of it before. when we got it, it was really dark so he has been stripping and sanding. The pictures is what it looks like now. Obviously still not done. Looking for some feedback.

bob klein

It was very common for this style of table and done in a reddish finish to be built out of sweet gum or birch and stained to look like mahogany. I do not believe it is Chestnut.

Last edited 9 months ago by bob klein
John Peart

is this American Chestnut? I got a decent amount of this lumber years ago. At the time I was pretty it was AC looking at the standing tree.

John Peart

It could be HM, but I have tapped (for maple syrup) for 35 years and am pretty familiar with them. There is no doubt that this is a pretty hard wood. I see that American Chestnut is about 600 vs HM which is 1400+ (janka). So it most likely isn’t AC. Your time is appreciated!

Daniel Whittemore

This looks very much like Cherry.


It’s not cherry, I have lots of cherry and this is substantially lighter in colour.


Followup, images of log, lumber and bur from prev post in here:


Do you ever find mineral stain in A. chestnut like happens in water/laurel oak? A member has sawn a log he feels is chestnut, it was a lone tree with lots of burs on the ground containing 3 nuts. But full of mineral stain, the sapwood is not stained, so it didn’t lay on the ground to get stained.

Roger Lee

Any idea if this is American Chestnut? It still attached to the old farmhouse that I have dated to have been built around 1914.

james C synnestvedt

hi all
would you venture to guess the wood?
100cm x45 cm, in Sweden, bit doesn’t look traditional Swedish.
many thanks for any suggestions


Trying to ID a dead standing tree in southeast CT that I’m planning to mill soon. I’m 99% sure that it’s chestnut from the end grain, and the fact that there are many younger chestnut trees growing around it. Discerning whether it’s American or European chestnut is where I’m stumped. Seems unlikely that American would have gotten to the size of this tree (34” diameter at chest height) which can’t be more than 25 years dead. It’s completely debarked, but the wood is still very solid. The Sibley Tree Guide does note that European chestnut has escaped cultivation in this… Read more »


Thank you Eric. That agrees what what a local wood-savvy friend suggested: scarlet oak. I was excited for chestnut, but at least I’ll get to work with an oak species that’s new to me.

nicholas tinling

This looks like chestnut. Untreated and stored on right, sanded and sealed on left


PS. The woodworker didn’t have any idea of what kind of wood it is. It’s pretty hard, lightweight. Whatever it is, I think it’s beautiful.


I got this old mirror years ago, and I have always wondered at the wood. I have come to think it may be chestnut. I recently had it repaired (it split on a corner) and refinished. What do you think?


Hi, Eric. Hoping you can help with idenfication on this hardwood flooring. We’ve had differing opinions with varying degrees of confidence from local flooring specialist. Thanks.

Flooring 2.jpg
John MacDougall

Actually, that looks like Tanoak (not Oak) Notholithocarpus densiflorus. Range of central California up through southern Oregon. It is HEAVILY rayed like that. I use it to manufacture the barrel portion of our baseball bats.


Hi Eric just wondering if you might be able to help me? Do you think this might be an American chestnut? Thank you

Kateri Clement

Sorry wrong pics

Last edited 2 years ago by Kateri Clement

Hi Eric sorry to bother you again but would you have any idea with this type of lumber might be? Thank you again


Thank you for all your help!


Hi I’m pretty sure that this is American chestnut? I’m hoping I am right? Thank you


Not sure if the other post went through. But thank you for all your help Eric I really appreciate it! The wood isn’t heavy or really light either

Michael McLaughlin

Sure looks like Chestnut.


The lumber does look like it has some wormy holes in it


I enjoy working with American Chestnut it works and finishes easily and has a distinct appearance. Unfortunately it’s hard to come by. I just finished turning some pens from a supply I had from my 200 year old log cabin. I had fenceposts around the farm that I pulled up and used as well. My favorite was an old creek crossing timber that I removed from the muck when I installed pipe in the crossing. It was almost black from soaking up the minerals in the mud but dried out and turned very well. Amazing material and in my opinion… Read more »

Michael Parsons

Once while working in the Shenandoah valley area in Virginia, I happened across a pile of discarded American Chestnuts pods along a local road. I grabbed up a pile of them, then later stuck the individual nuts in putting soil. Many germinated. When they were a couple inches tall I set them outside for sun. Dang squirrel yanked most out! But of the couple that survived, I managed for one to take good footing in my yard. Now, several years later it stands about 12ft tall, just as broad, and about 4-6″ at the base of the trunk and appears… Read more »

Cole Lambrix

It will likely need a mate tree, since they have male and female flowers on one tree but they rarely self pollinate.

Hec L

The American Chestnut Foundation,, is continuously looking for surviving American Chestnut trees in hopes of finding blight resistant varieties. They have a tree locator and leaf & twig sample forms. There is a chance you may have found one of them. Specially, the one still putting out pods. From what I read, the blight gets them before they get to pod making age.

Cat Vaillancourt

I have a house that is 232 years old, during renovations my husband discovered that it was built with chesnut. The flooring in the attic space had numerous planks of chesnut that we utilized and made kitchen cabinet doors and base board trim in various other rooms. Making this house definitely one of a kind, and understanding why there has been no termites, carpenter ants or rot with destruction.


I’m trying to find a highly porous, or more importantly absorbent wood for a project. Would this wood be good? In particular I would like to find a wood that can absorb wax if at all possible, and so I’ve been thinking that porous and large pours are probably necessities.

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: before cutting it down.

David Gallagher

I just had someone give me some chestnut that was near a was cut down already and posted for firewood..some of the log sections had small little living branches. Can I put those in something and start saplings ?

Charles March

Yard trees are worthless because they figure that owners nail nails and other metal objects into it.

Erik Wollum

To a mill perhaps, but someone with a portable mill such as myself I’d be willing to risk a busted or damaged blade for something as rare as chestnut

James Swigert

You don’t know what your talking about when it comes to Chestnut. People spend big money to buy Chestnut reclaimed from old barns, houses,etc… People will pay big money for Chestnut. As far as sawing it they have a thing called a metal detector and most people that harvest trees and those who run sawmills own one

David Weaver

If you have a tree full of nails, or potentially with nails, spikes or whatever in, you’ll usually get stuck with an agreement with the sawyer to pay for any broken blades. Metal detectors find big stuff, and surface stuff, but not everything. My neighborhood has tall clear stands of oaks, maples, cherry trees and I’ve never seen a single salvage log get hauled away. they are either bucked for home owners to turn into firewood, or literally bucked and split and ground (and labor charged to do it) in a trailer grinder. Reclaimed wood is handled by specialists who… Read more »