|Why Grow Chestnuts?
The main reason that you should grow chestnuts is that there is really nothing like
them! Historically, American chestnuts were a dominant tree in the east, with the
largest concentrations in the Appalachian mountains. Here they reached a massive
size, making the oaks look small by comparison. In contrast to other nut trees, the
American chestnut provided dependable crops of sweet nuts yearly, making the
ecological importance of the chestnut unsurpassed. Also, unlike other important
hardwoods, chestnuts thrived on forest disturbance, and part of the dominance of the
chestnut in the early days of America was likely due to its ability to respond to cutting
and disturbance with vigorous sprouting and growth.
The wood of the chestnut is more rot resistant than any other hardwood, and was
valued for lumber, fenceposts and telegraph poles.
Finally, the nut of the chestnut tree is like no other. Enclosed in a sphere of sharp
spikes until the day of ripening, the husk is essentially an impenetrable vault. The
nut itself is high in carbohydrates, and low in fats, unlike other nuts of North America.
The sweet flavor (and crunchy texture when raw) of American chestnuts and their
hybrids is truly unique and anyone who has previously tasted raw or roasted
European chestnuts will be pleasantly surprised when they taste their first American
In addition to growing American Chestnuts, we grow hybrids of the American and
other chestnuts, screening for trees that are fully hardy and bearing of large sweet
nuts. So far, the tough part has been finding hybrid trees with large enough nuts.