What Are the Types of Chestnut Tree?

Chestnut trees are deciduous trees, meaning they lose their leaves each fall and remain leafless during the winter. Some chestnut tree types produce sweet, edible nuts that are encased in a hard, spiny shell while others are known for their striking flowers. Grown in a wide range of shapes and sizes, chestnut trees make ideal specimen trees.

American Chestnut

American chestnut (Castanea dentata) is a deciduous chestnut tree variety that has a medium texture. It grows 50 to 75 feet tall and wide and has a moderate growth rate. American chestnut trees have a broad, massive crown with wide, spreading branches. The oval shaped, 6- to 10-inch-long, toothed leaves on the American chestnut cast a yellow tinge in fall. The aromatic, densely clustered flowers on American chestnut trees are creamy white to yellow and grow 4 to 8 inches long. American chestnut trees have small, sweet 2- to 3-inch-wide nuts that are enclosed in spiny burrs. They grow best in full sun and well-drained, loamy soil. Plant American chestnut trees in USDA zones 5 to 8.

Chinese Chestnut

Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima) is a variety of chestnut tree that grows best in USDA zones 4 to 8. It grows 40 to 60 feet tall and wide, creating a commanding landscape presence. Chinese chestnut trees are medium in size and have a rounded, open crown. Grown for their edible nuts, Chinese chestnut trees have oblong to lance-shaped, dark green leaves that are toothed around the perimeter of each leaf and grow 5 to 8 inches long. In fall, the leaves turn different varying shades of yellow for a striking presence to the landscape. The aromatic, late-spring-blooming flowers on Chinese chestnut trees are yellow to white followed by the 2- to 3-inch-wide, encased nuts. They grow best in full sun and well-drained soils.

Horse Chestnut

Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum 'Baumannii' ) is a deciduous tree that grows best in USDA zones 3 to 8. It grows 50 to 80 feet tall and has a spread of 35 to 60 feet wide. Horse chestnut trees have an upright, oval to rounded crown. The light green, palmate leaves each have 7 spreading 4- to 10-inch-long leaflets that are oval to oblong in shape and turn dark green in summer. The white flowers on horse chestnut trees emerge in mid-spring on upright panicles and are tinged with red or yellow markings. Horse chestnut trees grow best in full sun to part shade and well-drained, moist soil that is nutrient-rich.

Keywords: chestnut tree types, American chestnut, Chinese chestnut, horse chestnut

About this Author

Callie Barber has been writing professionally since 2002. Barber's love for design and writing inspired her to create Design Your Revolution, a blog that shares creative and affordable ways to decorate indoor and outdoor living environments. Her articles have appeared on Travels.com and GardenGuides.com. Barber holds a Bachelors of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina.