Chinese Chestnut 

One of the most noticed attributes of the chinese chestnut is its spiky, porcupine-like nut encasings, that usually litter the area surrounding the tree. These shells hold 2-3 edible chestnuts within. This tree also produces unpleasant smelling, light green or creamy yellow flowers. Its leaves are dark green, long, toothed, and have a pointed oval shape. This tree attracts small mammals.

Family: Fagaceae (Beech)

Characteristics: The 3-6 inch long leaves are dark green and coarsely serrated. In the fall, leaves turn yellow or golden-brown. In May-June, unpleasant smelling, light green or creamy yellow flowers begin to bloom. These flowers are followed by the tree’s edible nuts, which are encased in a prickly porcupine-like outer shell. Bark is dark gray, ridged, and furrowed. This tree has a rounded shape with a short trunk and wide-spreading branches. It grows 40-60 feet high and wide.

Foliage: Deciduous (leaves lost seasonally)

Geographic Origin: Korea, China (non-native)

Cultivation Notes:  Requires medium maintenance. Does best in full sun. Prefers acidic, moist, and well-drained soils. Established trees can do well in dry conditions.

Number on Campus: 1

Sources: Dirr, Morton Arboretum, Missouri Botanical Garden


  • Chinese Chestnut photo by D. H. Richards
  • Chinese Chestnut Fall Color
  • Chinese Chestnut Flower
  • Chinese Chestnut Bark
  • Chinese Chestnut Fruit