To keep it simple, the properly below mine is not currently lived on, only mowed once every few months. There is a chestnut tree in that backyard that just started dropping nuts, so I trespassed a little and gathered some and lo, there were 2 seedlings!
I relocated them to a space in my yard were they will fit nicely in the to be food forest. After a few minutes of Googling, I'm leaning towards species ID, but I'd to get 2nd opinions if anyone has experience. I'm considering a twig to the American Chestnut Foundation if no one is sure.
The leaves are about 6-8" long. The tree is maybe 30' tall, it looks to have been hacked at a few times.
Leaves of the American Chestnut are narrower with a toothy looking scalloped edge.
Less than one in ten thousand survived the blight that began decimating this species around 1908. Some stumps still send up new growth from the roots and stumps. Most root systems have died but many in southern Apalachia, near the tops of ridges still put up new growth. Nearly all shoots die of blight before they reach 10 feet tall. THEY CAN BE SAVED. If you live in Apalachia and find young chestnuts growing as coppice, contact --- The American Chestnut Foundation.--- If caught early, the blight can be managed. They are working to restore populations and breed disease resistant varieties. Every new find adds greater genetic diversity and another glimmer of hope . I'm going to contact them to see if they would like to post an article on the forum.
The loss of this tree hit the south at the height of the depression. Nut sales and pork fed on nuts were the two most important sources of cash for small farmers in the mountains. It was their most important and rot resistant building wood. Many formerly independent families became landless wage slaves as huge numbers migrated in search of a new beginning.
Those leaves look big. I think they could be Japanese chestnut (castanea crenata), they could definitely also be a hybrid. All chestnut species can freely hybridize and many nurseries (including my own) propagate hybrid chestnuts. It is not an American chestnut though. Japanese chestnuts are very large and hard to peel in general. Chinese can be big or small and are usually easier to peel.
American chestnuts are not as rare as people think. Within the range of the American chestnut, there are endless seedlings and stump sprouts. They are usually pretty small and often overlooked. I have found dozens in the woods around here in upstate New York. I think the ACF (American chestnut foundation) would only be interested in nativetrees showing a degree of resistance. They have a pretty amazing breeding program, and state chapters of their foundation will usually send free seeds.
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