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 Chestnuts 
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Joined: Sat Jun 14, 2008 9:45 pm
Posts: 103
Location: Camas, Washington
Post Chestnuts
I have been gathering chestnuts during my lunchtime walks the last few days. Anyone else collecting chestnuts? If so, what are you doing with them? Any tips?

I recently sent a twig sample from a huge old chestnut tree here in Camas to the American Chestnut Foundation for identification since I thought it might be an American Chestnut. I collected nuts from this tree a few years ago and sprouted them in my yard. The tree is on property that used to belong to the Leadbetter family (Henry Pittock's son in law). The tree was probably planted between 1883 and 1910. It has produced many seedlings, there is a small forest of chestnuts there now.

It turned out to be a European chestnut, but it seems really healthy and seems to produce a lot of nuts so I'll keep my seedlings.


Thu Oct 02, 2014 9:33 pm
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Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2014 3:40 pm
Posts: 4
Location: Missouri, Adair County
Post Re: Chestnuts
I eat them. Roasted chestnut over a fire are great.

I planted 2 trees this last spring and have two more on order for next spring.


Sat Oct 04, 2014 5:12 am
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1188
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
Post Re: Chestnuts
Let me get this right; American, or ‘Horse Chestnuts’ are poisonous, or at least uneatable. And ‘Chinese Chestnuts’ are eatable..?

My dad knows the difference, but I don’t. Mom had we kids scared to death of the ‘American tree down the street,’ as Dad brought home the kind you could eat after roasting. Last fall I bought several bags to roast, delicious! But I’ve always assumed they were Chinese…

Guess I could search this… but asking is likely more interesting :P

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Sun Oct 05, 2014 8:02 pm
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Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 10:57 am
Posts: 1406
Location: Portland, OR
Post Re: Chestnuts
The American Chestnut tree was one of the most productive staples of Traditional Native American Horticulture before the arrival (invasion?) of the Europeans. It is a different tree than the Horsechestnut trees, which we thought were very useful for "wars" when we were kids. Horse chestnut trees are poisonous, and they're related to buckeye trees of Ohio State fame (the other OSU). The edible American chestnut is the tree that was devastated by invasive diseases and people back east are carefully cultivating varieties that can withstand the disease. European varieties are said to do well here in the PNW. CHinese varieties may need more sun than we have, but with all this global warming..........
John S
PDX OR


Thu Oct 09, 2014 10:21 pm
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2011 8:37 pm
Posts: 23
Post Re: Chestnuts
If i had any chestnut trees to walk by at lunch i would certainly pick them up. Or drive if i someone told me where any were to glean. Too bad agroforesty didn't catch on 50 years ago. i'll have to wait until my trees are producing....only ten years left....


Fri Oct 10, 2014 9:11 pm
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2011 8:37 pm
Posts: 23
Post Re: Chestnuts
Hey davem, if you're willing to share the location of said chestnut grove, i would much like to get some locally adapted chestnut germplasm for nursery stock. maybe by the time i'm dead my agroforest can feed some people.


Mon Oct 13, 2014 12:17 pm
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Joined: Sun Aug 06, 2006 5:03 pm
Posts: 86
Location: Vancouver WA
Post Re: Chestnuts
If you want locations there are three trees on the south edge of highway 14 between 164th ave and I-205. They are accessed from the street that curves parallel to the highway and there are no yards or houses where these chestnuts are. I think they are chinese because of the rounded form where as american are straighter growing. The telling difference between the fruit of horse chestnuts is the much prominent spikes on the husk. Real chestnuts are spiny also but have more spines and less prominent.


Sat Oct 18, 2014 1:18 pm
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Joined: Sat Jun 14, 2008 9:45 pm
Posts: 103
Location: Camas, Washington
Post Re: Chestnuts
Here are the details on the small chestnut forest near Lacamas Lake in Camas:

The biggest tree is here: https://www.google.com/maps/place/45%C2 ... !1s0x0:0x0

I am guessing this is the parent of all the others, and was probably planted between 1883 and 1910. There are about 30 trees in total, most of them are to the SE of the biggest tree.

The nuts are probably just finishing up dropping from the trees. A lot of the nuts drop onto the lawn here: https://www.google.com/maps/place/45%C2 ... !1s0x0:0x0 which makes it easy to collect them. You can park near this lawn.

The biggest tree is very close to the property line (but outside the fence) of the house there so if you want to clamber around under it, you might knock on their door to tell them what you are doing. Otherwise just move to the SE and you should be fine.


Sun Oct 19, 2014 2:50 pm
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Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2011 11:22 am
Posts: 13
Post Re: Chestnuts
It's easy to tell the difference between a horse chestnut and an American or Chinese chestnut. The leaves are distinctively different: horse chestnuts have compound leaves with 5 to 7 leaflets and the edible kind have single leaves. Google it.


Sat Nov 15, 2014 11:33 pm
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Joined: Sun Aug 06, 2006 5:03 pm
Posts: 86
Location: Vancouver WA
Post Re: Chestnuts
True. The way I found the ones along the south edge of I-14 was the tree form and white bloom timing both together. If one could view arial google maps of imagery shot during the right time in May (plus or minus?) you might be able to scout out many other places to gather some.


Sun Nov 16, 2014 4:20 pm
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Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 10:57 am
Posts: 1406
Location: Portland, OR
Post Re: Chestnuts
Horse chestnut = poison, related to Buckeye tree. We used them as kids for ammo in "wars".

American European, CHinese Chestnut= great historic traditional large starch food trees.
John S
PDX OR


Thu Nov 20, 2014 10:41 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1188
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
Post Re: Chestnuts
John S wrote:
Horse chestnut = poison, related to Buckeye tree. We used them as kids for ammo in "wars".

American European, CHinese Chestnut= great historic traditional large starch food trees.


Perfect, John :P We had a giant Horse chestnut tree two houses away - right on our way home from school - so plenty of ammo! Problem was, my mother could witness the carnage … then warn us about them being poisonous ...though I never had the slightest urge to chew & eat one :roll:

Having followed this discussion, I searched both leaf patterns online. but what I mainly noticed was that the ‘edible ones’ have the fuzzy, almost hairy husks - whereas the poisonous ones have the ‘freaky spikes.’ ...that seem right?

To this day I’ll go out of my way to pop a fresh Horse chestnut from it’s husk ...just to feel it’s smooth pristine form and marvel at the mahogany finish … then fill my pockets, for further admiration … or if spotting my Brother :mrgreen:

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Sat Nov 22, 2014 12:03 pm
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Joined: Mon May 10, 2004 1:00 pm
Posts: 204
Location: SE Portland
Post Re: Chestnuts
Beautiful nuts; hell for bike commuters. Roll over one of them on a skinny-tired bike and it shoots in one direction and I in the opposite. They're pretty messy trees for the city.


Sun Nov 23, 2014 10:49 pm
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Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 10:57 am
Posts: 1406
Location: Portland, OR
Post Re: Chestnuts
Yes, Viron,
THat's a good way of saying it. Real chestnuts are covered with tons of tiny spikes. Horse chestnuts have big spikes. The leaves are composite and complex on a horsechestnut. On a regular chestnut, they are longish but normal looking.
John S
PDX OR


Wed Nov 26, 2014 6:19 pm
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