|Bareroot Hybrid Chestnut Seedling. 3.4.17|
|Chestnut Sapling Root System. 3.4.17|
Chestnut orders in catalogs are confusing. There are some points to remember.
Important points about ordering nursery Chestnut trees.
1. Aim for disease resistant varieties. There are lots of disease resistant varieties. Chestnuts are subject to a few diseases that can kill the trees. Even in a chestnut blight - free area, such as Pacific NW where I live, someone could unknowingly bring the disease here, and start an epidemic. Best to use disease resistant varieties, if possible.
2. Seedling vs.Graft. They are not the same. There are many named varieties. It's confusing in catalogs, because some are sold as grafts, and some are sold as seedlings from those varieties. Chestnuts are not self pollinating, so the seedling is only genetically 1/2 the named variety, and is 1/2 something else. You don't know what the paternal, pollen half would be. It could be a related variety, or an entirely different species. For example, the seedling that I bought was a Japanese X European hybrid. If the pollen parent is another Japanese X European hybrid, then the seedling MIGHT grow up to be similar to the named parent. On the other hand, the pollen parent could be an American Chestnut, a Chinese Chestnut, a European, or a Japanese species. Since it's not labeled, it's a gamble. Grafted varieties are not the same kind of gamble.
3. Chestnuts are not self pollinating. So, at least 2 trees are needed not more than 100 feet apart. Some websites state not more than 50 feet apart. The pollinating tree does not have to be the same species. Some hybrids do not produce pollen. It's important to check the description. It's not much use getting a chestnut tree without a pollinizing companion tree, unless you just want it as a shade tree.
In this case, I bought the seedling, thinking it might pollenize the two grafted hybrids that I bought from a different nursery. The seedling was much cheaper. The label states it is not a pollenizer - oops, ,my fault for not reading the catalog description more thoroughly - but how do we know, not knowing who was the pollen parent? Maybe the named variety is not a pollenizer, but this offspring via different paternity is. I don't know. I may graft a branch or two with one of the other trees, next year. That could solve that problem.
4. Seedlings take a few years longer to start producing nuts, compared to grafted trees. That works the same way for fruits.
That's about all for this post. I am thinking about putting together a more detailed post about Chestnut trees, in general, regarding why they are highly desirable for permaculture and heritage trees, and more about their biology and history.