Chinese vs. American Chestnut
(Castanea mollissima vs. Castanea dentata)


Click an image for more
Buds and Stems:
American chestnut buds Chinese chestnut buds
American chestnut stipules Chinese chestnut stipules
Burs and Nuts:
Burs  |  Nuts
Chestnut burs



Leaves top view Top View

American Leaf (left):

Leaf is long in relation to its width
Large, prominent teeth on edge; bristle at the end of each tooth curves inward
Base of leaf blade tapers sharply
Leaf is very thin and papery

Chinese Leaf (right):
Leaf is oval-shaped
Teeth are smaller
Base of leaf blade is rounded
Leaf is thick and waxy-feeling
Bottom view Bottom View

American Leaf (left):
Elongated leaf
Large, prominent teeth on edge; bristle on teeth curves inward
Blade tapers sharply to meet stem at base of leaf blade
Light green underside on leaves exposed to the sun

Chinese Leaf (right):
Oval-shaped leaf
Small teeth on edge
Base of leaf blade rounded
Underside of sun leaves look whitish because of many hairs
American buds American Buds and Lenticels

Pointed buds that angle away from the stem
Stems smooth and hairless
Stem color reddish brown to dark green
Small but numerous lenticels on stem
Chinese buds Chinese Buds and Lenticels

Rounded buds that hug the stem
Hairy stems and hairy leaf veins
Stem color tan to pea-green
Large lenticels (bumps) on stem
American Stipules American Stipules

Angle sharply out from stem
Usually fall off in June
Chinese Stipules Chinese Stipules

Cover the buds
Remain on the stem through September
American vs Chinese Burs
American Bur --------Chinese Bur

American Chestnut Burs:
A dense mass of long, slender spines
Spines are 2 to 3 cm long, 0.5 mm thick
Up to 3 nuts per bur
Chinese Chestnut Burs:
A sparse mass of short, thick spines
Spines are 1 to 2 cm long, 1 mm thick
Up to 3 nuts per bur
American vs Chinese nuts
American ------ Chinese
American nuts - endviewChinese nuts endview
American Chestnuts:
Nuts are relatively small, 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter
Tips of American chestnuts are pointed
Nuts are hairy over 1/3 to 2/3 of length from pointed end
Vascular bundles in a sunburst pattern on hilum end
2 to 3 nuts in each bur
Chinese Chestnuts:
Nuts are relatively large, 3/4 to 2 inches in diameter
Tips of Chinese chestnuts are rounded
Only the tips of the nuts are hairy
Vascular bundles in a diffuse pattern on hilum end
2 to 3 nuts in each bur