Chestnut Trees in Oregon

August 18, 2007

In Sherwood, Oregon, the largest recorded American chestnut tree grows along side Edy Road. Other, large American chestnut trees can be found in Oregon. Pioneers who knew the value of the chestnut tree brought nuts with them to plant. Some living chestnut trees may pre-date statehood. Others trees have been planted recently by a new generation continuing the interest in and appreciation for the American chestnut.  Until recently these trees planted in the 1880s were cared for by Francis and June Boone are now maintained by Hawks View Vineyards.

In the 2nd photo below, the trunk of the larger American chestnut tree is approximately 6 feet in diameter; the smaller, approximately 4 feet in diameter.   The American chestnuts in Sherwood are full of burs that will break open in the fall, spilling sweet nuts onto the ground below.

A sample of leaves, stems and burs from a large chestnut tree in Latourelle, OR, in the Guy Talbot State Park were collected and analyzed to determine if the tree is a true American chestnut.

The Hoyt Arboretum in southwest Portland has a grove of 7 chestnut trees including an American chestnut tree, 2 Spanish Chestnut trees and 4 Chinese chestnut trees. The American chestnut is 15 inches in diameter. The grove is located a short distance from the Hoyt Arboretum Welcome Center.  Though Hoyt Arboretum’s records claim only the seven chestnut trees growing in a grove, there are others if one looks carefully. On the walk from the Welcome Center to the grove is a Park Bench dedicated to the memory of Gregory L. Noel. A number of small chestnut trees have sprouted at the right side end of the bench.  Some speculate that several small chestnut trees growing a considerable distance uphill from the grove might be the result of a visitor who collected nuts from the grove, sat on the bench to examine them, and when finished looking at them, tossed them aside.

Carolinas Chapter Board Member Doug Gillis also came upon an American chestnut tree on a residential street. The man who cultivated the tree from a cutting planted it in his yard some 20 years ago because of his interest in and fascination with the American chestnut tree. His and his wife’s children check the tree each fall for viable nuts. At nearby Gabriel Park there is a chestnut tree, apparently European, growing adjacent to a public garden area. Maybe by chance insects or other pollinators bring chestnut pollen to this tree to produce viable nuts.