Identifying American Chestnut Trees

This page is designed to help you distinguish among several species of the chestnut family (Castanea) commonly seen in North America. Also included are three non-chestnut species that are often confused with chestnut.  Click on the names below to see examples and characteristics of the common species of chestnut or chestnut look-alikes.

Resources, Identification Sheet, Form, and Presentations

Overview of Five Species

Chinese and American Chestnuts
Japanese Chestnut
European Chestnut
Allegheny Chinquapin
Chestnut Oaks, Beeches, and Horse Chestnuts

A good place to start is to compare American and Chinese chestnuts. Over 80% of the leaves that are sent to us each year for identification are either from Chinese chestnuts or Chinese/American hybrids, because these trees are resistant to the chestnut blight. Also compare true American chestnut with three trees often confused with chestnut: chestnut oak, beech, and horse chestnut.


  • Include the Tree Locator Form, so we can keep track of your sample and send you results. This form is vital for our inventory of wild trees.  Results can take up to 4 – 8 weeks, depending on where they are analyzed. You will get your results by mail or email.
  • If you think you have an American chestnut tree, send us a freshly-cut 6-12 inch twig with mature leaves attached. Leaves should be from sun exposure, if possible.
  • Press leaves between pieces of cardboard to flatten and prevent curling or crushing as they dry.
  • To prevent mold, do not put the sample into a plastic bag. Crushed or bent leaves are much harder to analyze, as are leaves that are not freshly collected.
  • Spring or summer is the best time to collect samples for identification purposes.
  • Please don’t send photos without mailing in a leaf sample as well.  The pictures can actually help in the identification.  We may not be able to ID solely from a picture, but it can add to the whole package of understanding your tree.


RegionIf your sample is fromWhere to send
Samples from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont, or New Hampshire
Kendra Collins
New England Regional Science Coordinator
Northern Research Station, US Forest Service
705 Spear Street
South Burlington, VT 05403
Samples from Indiana, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, or Delaware
Sara Fitzsimmons
Director of Restoration
North Central Regional Science Coordinator
Penn State University
206 Forest Resources Lab
University Park, PA 16802
Samples from Kentucky, Virginia, or West Virginia (Due to current staffing limitations, identification and response to samples sent to the Mid-Atlantic office will be delayed. Thank you for your patience.)
Mid-Atlantic Regional Science Coordinator
The American Chestnut Foundation
900 Natural Resources Drive
Charlottesville, VA 22903
Mid-Atlantic Region (MD only)Samples from Maryland
Gary Carver
TACF Volunteer ID Specialist
3501 Big Woods Road
Ijamsville, MD 21754-9421
Samples from Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, or Mississippi
Jamie Van Clief
Southern Regional Science Coordinator
The American Chestnut Foundation
50 North Merrimon Avenue
Ste. 115
Asheville, NC 28804
Southern Region (GA Only)Samples from GeorgiaMarty Cipollini
TACF Volunteer ID Specialist
Berry College, Dept. of Biology
2277 Martha Berry Highway
Mount Berry, GA 30149
North America (USA other)All other U.S. samples not listed aboveEric Jenkins
Meadowview Tree Breeding Coordinator
Meadowview Research Farms
29010 Hawthorne Dr
Meadowview, VA 24361
North America (Canada only)CanadaCanadian Residents – Please contact:
Canadian Chestnut Council
Please do not ship sample to TACF.