how to identify american chestnut wood

When I finally cut down the largest of the dead trees, about 20" at its base, I finally got to see inside the trunk. I was cross cutting firewood at a friend's house the other day after an unknown log truck driver dropped off a load of logs for him. Identifying American Chestnut. That gives chestnut a beautiful grain pattern. The wood was completely sound; sort of brown, coffee-with-cream color; no apparent sapwood; and, when I cut a piece off, not very heavy. how to identify american chestnut wood samples? Recently I cut a smaller tree and split some of it for firewood and, while it split well, the fibers were somewhat interlocked. The board in the top picture has some cathedral grail that looks identical to American chestnut, but the rest of the grain in both boards is hard to identify because of the grain structure and the photo itself. May be found in antique furniture, old barns, and other products manufactured before the blight affected trees in the early 20th century. Growing to a girth greater than most oaks, the chestnut provided the country's pioneers with wood for every imaginable use. Question This is not reclaimed wood. I have called the ACF, Penn State University, and Rutgers University. Together, chestnuts and oaks predominated the 200 million acre forest. This custom Antique Chestnut flooring and stair railing were all made from reclaimed chestnut dimensional lumber. Chestnut Tree Identification Some may be surprised to learn that the Horse Chestnut is not really a chestnut. Because the species has a resilient root system, the American chestnut survives here and there in the form of living stumps, which sometimes send up young skinny treelings. Maybe like cardboard. If it sprouts from the stump it can be identified from the leaves/twig. What was once known as the queen of Eastern America—the American Chestnut tree—is now nearly extinct? Narrow sapwood is well-defined and is pale white to light brown. Before the early 1900s one in every four hardwood trees in North America’s eastern forests was an American Chestnut. I have built quite a bit of furniture and cabinets from butternut and I have always gotten a slight tearout where there is grain direction change. American chestnut wood is ring porous. Blight on an American chestnut tree . How to Identify. Look at a smooth slice of the end grain. Chestnut splits easily, so care must be taken in nailing and screwing the wood. I'm not quite sure how to describe it. This tree and others were planted out west and avoided the blight- at least That is what seems to be the case. Today the only available American chestnut wood suitable to architecture and interiors comes to us through reclaimed timber resources. The end grain cell pattern of American chestnut is like that of oaks, but you can't see the ray cells in American chestnut like you can in oaks. Whether you are considering building your own wood furniture or creating decorative carvings, you need to think about knots in the wood. (Having breathed too much black walnut and mahogany dust, I can't smell anything.) It's a long shot, but I do believe I have something special here. Other Common Names/Trade Names: None Scientific Name: Quercus rubra Best Characteristics for Identification: Ring porous, lacks tyloses, very wide rays. If it looks like white oak, but does not have the rays (looks like radial lines), it may be chestnut. The chestnut blight was first discovered in New York in 1904. Within 50 years, it killed nearly four billion chestnut trees. American Chestnut Cooperators Foundation (ACCF) is not using crosses with Asian species for blight resistance, but intercrossing among American chestnuts selected for native resistance to the blight, a breeding strategy described by the ACCF as "All-American intercrosses". I paneled a den back in 1978 with wormy American chestnut. Due to its wonderful stable disposition, chestnut was used for every utility purpose by the colonials. My new piece planed well. The American chestnut has long canoe shaped leaves with a prominent lance shaped tip, with a coarse, forward hooked teeth at the edge of the leaf. A friend came by, who cuts a lot of firewood, and I asked him what he thought it was and just by looking, he said "ironwood", but agreed it wasn't when he picked it up. The leaf is dull or matte rather than shiny or waxy in texture. European Chestnut lumber and veneer are very common, so make sure you are buying the real deal. Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .40, .48 American Chestnut is easy to work with both hand and machine tools. Chestnuts have been cultivated for nuts and wood for thousands of years. As I was cutting through the load I came across an unusual log, and I pulled it out and took it to my sawmill. Butternut is not a hardy tree, however, and I have never seen one standing completely barkless. Scientific Name: Castaea dentata Best Characteristics for Identification: Ring porous with uniserrate rays. Introduction . Latewood pores in flame tracts. Identify American chestnut leaves as those with a “flat” or matte coloring to the leaves, which does not have a reflective, shiny glow that other trees' leaves have. The blight was caused by an accidentally introduced Asian bark fungus (Cryphonectria parasitica). Thank you very much for the mention of hobbithouse. Asian chestnut trees had a resistance to Cryphonectria parasitica, but the American chestnut trees were extremely susceptible to the fungal disease which came to be known as the chestnut blight. In this conversation, someone mentioned that a lack of sapwood might indicate locust, and I know locust is rot resistant. Such saplings almost always succumb to blight by their teens or 20s, never getting old enough to flower and reproduce. The chestnut blight was first discovered in New York in 1904. Feb 5, 2020 - Explore Barry Gatewood's board "American chestnut" on Pinterest. American chestnut was once the most important tree of the Eastern North American Hardwood Forest. Common Name(s): American Chestnut Obviously, American Chestnut is rare and relatively expensive for a domestic wood. Attachments. Parsons imported Japanese chestnut trees, which he raised and sold to customers who wanted something exotic in their gardens. If it is what I am hoping for, it's a major shame that somebody cut it down. chestnut.JPG. Wormy Chestnut is also seen, which is chestnut that has been damaged by insects, leaving holes and other discoloration in the wood. According to a historical publication, "many of the dry ridge tops of the central Appalachians were so thoroughly crowded with chestnut that, in early summer, when their canopies were filled with creamy-white flowers, the … Due to it’s course texture, turning is mediocre. The leaf clearly shows some saw tooth edges, but is kind of chewed up from being dragged and grappled many times. I am currently living in a house built in 1916 I asked a local millwork shop to duplicate some of the trim he stated that it was yellow pine and unavailable would have to be ash as asubstitute have since seen examples pictures of american chestnut and seems more likely any suggestions thank you. I believe this is a genuine American chestnut measuring some 8' long and about 14" to 18" in diameter. The trees were thenharvested and converted to lumber which is now known as Wormy Chestnut. An American chestnut that big may have blight resistance. The elongated leaves are dark green, shiny, and saw-toothed. March 9, 2010, KnowledgeBase: Forestry: Tree Pests and Diseases, KnowledgeBase: Lumber & Plywood: Wood Identification, KnowledgeBase: Primary Processing: General. The wood was lightweight, weather-resistant, and very easy to chop and hand mill. One or perhaps all of these shipments concealed the pathogenic fungus Cryphonectria parasitica which chokes chestnut trees to death by wedging itself into their trunks and obstructing conduits for nutrients. The American Chestnut Tree. I keep my eye out for when they sell the building for development. AMERICAN CHESTNUT WOOD American Chestnut comprised over 60% of the eastern hardwood forests when the first settlers arrived in North America. Also in the neighborhood were some trees that I thought might be black walnut. Reaching heights of 130 feed and growing over 6 feet in diameter, American Chestnuts were home to squirrels, chipmunks, blue jays and scores of benign burrowing insects. The sweet nut is covered by a spiny, urchin-like husk. Once again, I was struck by the light weight of the wood. I have sawn all three of these ironwoods and have not found any clear information about any of them; one more reason I would love to write a book someday, but not in the near future! The heartwood, or innermost part of an American chestnut tree, produces a light to medium brown wood which develops a reddish hue as it ages. Hold a leaf to see how it reflects the light. Although no adverse health effects have been specifically reported for the American Chestnut, other types of Chestnut in the the Castanea genus (C. sativa and C. mollissima) have been reported to cause skin irritation. An estimated 4 billion American chestuts, up to 1/4 of the hardwood tree population, grew within this range. From contributor V: I dealt with a lot of American chestnut and Chinese chestnut. I resawed about 500 board feet of American chestnut last year and I am familiar with its characteristics, but this is the first time I have found an actual log. I know it is not elm, having split enough of that when younger. The wood in these standing trees was subsequently damaged by insects, leaving holes and discoloration. Scientists can also use tissue culture to propagate American chestnut so you don't even need a sprout, just live tissue. The American chestnut tree reigned over 200 million acres of eastern woodlands from Maine to Florida, and from the Piedmont plateau in the Carolinas west to the Ohio Valley, until succumbing to a lethal fungus infestation, known as the chestnut blight, during the first half of the 20th century. Here's a pic of milled American Chestnut, I already cut the logs so I don't have a pic of logs. It also resisted decay, warping and shrinking. Examine the leaves of the tree, looking for the characteristic elongated, toothed leaves of the American chestnut. Wormy Chestnut is not a distinct species of Chestnut, but rather refers to American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) trees that were killed by the chestnut blight of the early 1900s, which were subsequently damaged by insects, leaving holes and discoloration in the standing trees. Because the wood was lightweight, rot-resistant, straight grained and easy to work with, it was used to build houses, barns, telegraph poles, railroad ties, furniture and musical instruments. Can anybody direct me to some bark, end grain, and face grain images with clarity? Then, in the early part of this century, a severe blight swept the chestnut, reducing it to a nearly extinct species. Does well in hot, dry climates. But carving tools tend to dig into the porous layer and carving details in the porous layer is tricky if … Within 50 years, it killed nearly four billion chestnut trees. Identifying American Chestnut Trees. Looking at the end grain, the rings are evident but not in great contrast. Name: American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) Endangered. It was formed in 1985 for the purpose of promoting excellence in woodworking through teaching, development of individual skills and fostering interest in our craft. Tree Size: 100-120 ft (30-37 m) tall, 5-7 ft (1.5-2.0m) trunk diameter (Because of the chestnut blight of the early 1900s, very few trees of this size currently exist) Bears, deer and all kinds of mammals and birds feasted on the fallen chestnuts. There were also some trees, much larger, that were noticeable because there was not a scrap of bark on the trunks or limbs. If you haven't already, go to the ACF website. Features simple, alternate leaves that are 3–5" in length and dark green in color with a toothed margin. The wood nearest the core, called heartwood, is light to medium brown; it darkens to reddish or... Pores. Of course the smell of sassafras is spicy. Not having any bark to look at is hampering the identification and twigs and small branches are also gone. (Sawing and Drying Forum) Does anyone have a thought? The mystery tree grows in high, rocky terrain. It was responsible for killing over 3 billion chestnut trees. The Charlotte Woodworkers Association, is a non-profit organization. I can get about 500 bd ft american chestnut. A tree farm regrowing the American Chestnut trees It’s straight grain, light weight and highly rot resistance make ideal fence posts, railroad ties, barn beams, home construction, as well as fine furniture and musical instruments. I would love to have a conversation with this guy! Yes, this wood probably came from our island, and there's a commercial property that I used to rent that has several chestnut trees growing in the back of the property. That exact end grain sample has now lightened up considerably. I took a piece home and dressed it and it was harder than butternut. They have resources that may be of help to you. Now few large trees remain in the chestnut’s native range. At the turn of the 20th century American Chestnut I am trying to remember the smell, but I don't recall it being very distinct. How to Identify Chestnut Lumber Characteristics. My first guess after seeing the photos was black locust as someone above suggested. Forum Responses The American Chestnut once provided food and shelter for animals and people alike. Because of its apparent rot resistance and color I think of chestnut, although I have never handled chestnut before. Asian chestnut trees had a resistance to Cryphonectria parasitica, but the American chestnut trees were extremely susceptible to the fungal disease which came to be known as the chestnut blight. There were so many piled high that people would scoop them up with shovels from the forest floor. The colors of fresh cut log ends seem to turn a bit yellowish after a few hours, and after a few days the yellow seems to lighten up. The bark seems to match perfectly, same with the density, and the wood color. From contributor G: Grows in a rounded shape. Distribution: Eastern United States Uses: Veneer, lumber, furniture, cabinets, flooring, boats, pulp. I would have looked for the thin sapwood also. American chestnut is the rarest chestnut tree but can be identified by its leaves, which have large, sharp, and hooked teeth. American Chestnut  If your tree has long toothed pendant leaves like this, it may be a member in the chestnut family. The underside of the leaves will be covered with many small dots and the twigs will be slender, smooth, and hairless. Worm holes in many boards. How to Identify Chestnut Wood This presentation was put together by Lee Stover, retired faculty of wood products at Penn State. The bark is still white and wet in areas. I thought perhaps they were ash but standing dead ash usually is not barkless and is not rot resistant. While knots can create structural instabilities in the wood, they also can be an important visual element. Here's a nice photo of the recently discovered chestnut near Lake Erie. Before I do this, is it possible to bury some chunks and have a sapling form from the cambium or bark? Just because the tree was cut down doesn't mean it is dead. Did You Know? It does not have the bark of a horse chestnut, and I am almost positive that it is not a Chinese chestnut because it is not as dense as the last Chinese one that I cut a few years ago. Is highly resistant to chestnut blight. Chestnut flooring in the upstairs of an early American log cabin. Every Spring so many chestnut trees erupted in white blossoms that from a distance, the hills appeared to be draped in quilts of snow. This wood is somewhat dense, but the picture does seem to exaggerate it. Each annual ring has a layer of porous spring growth and a summer growth layer with few pores. 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. I considered black ash at one time but black ash is a lowland tree, growing in damp to wet areas. Uses: No longer a commercial tree species due to chestnut blight. One fourth of this forest was composed of native chestnut trees. Fragarent flowers appear in late June and early July. The name Castanea is believed to come from Kastanea, a city in Pontus, Turkey. It is not black walnut; I have built stairs and handrails from black walnut and it is not as dark or dense. Your old oaks will have rays running perpendicular to the rings. The American Chestnut Foundation is working to develop a blight resistant strain of American Chestnut tree with the hopes of returning the big chestnut trees to our native forests. Grain/Texture: Grain is straight to spiral or interlocked. The material here covers the basics necessary to begin identifying wood samples, especially toward the end of identifying chestnut and those most often mistaken for chestnut. We do not paint our Chestnut wood pieces as we feel it would be a shame to cover such amazing history. The trees were then subsequently harvested and converted into lumber. I also need to add that the end grain sample I provided is very fresh and wet cut. The American Chestnut Foundation has been cross-breeding American chestnuts with Chinese chestnuts for years in an effort to breed a hybrid that is as much like the American species as possible, but with the blight-resistance of its Chinese relative. Root suckers will often come up around a dead chestnut, as the root system is not damaged by the blight. IDENTIFICATION OF CHESTNUT TREES . Average Dried Weight: 30 lbs/ft3 In the United States, the native American chestnut once dominated the eastern hardwood forests. The best way to determine between chestnut and oak is to look at the end grain. I took a couple pieces back from the firewood yard today that are anywhere from 6" to 12" in diameter (upper limbs of the same tree, and still unsplit) and I am planning to cut them up into anything usable down to some small pen blanks. General Natural Range: Due to chestnut blight, it is found very infrequently within its … The sapwood is a creamy white, and about 1/4" thick with 3 or 4 growth rings. After seeing the pictures on this website they all say it seems to be American chestnut, but I have to wait for them to receive the samples I sent in the mail for an exact confirmation. Light reddish color. They were sound when I rapped them with a stick or axe handle, so I figured when I eventually got to them they might yield good firewood. Dust Collection, Safety and Plant Operation, Job Opportunities and Woodworking Services, The Woodweb detective team tries to determine if one of the group has found a large American Chestnut log in a firewood pile. To the naked eye, and in the correct angle of light, I can barely see medullary rays present, and at a distance of even 3-6" they are invisible. The American Chestnut dates back to 1800 and was an economic staple of the original homesteaders in the Appalachian Mountains. I have found a few scattered trees around town (identified by the fruit) and it was a toss-up between black walnut and butternut, which also can be found here. 'S a major shame that somebody cut it down the only available American chestnut so you do have... Built stairs and handrails from black walnut 20s, never getting old enough to flower and reproduce running perpendicular the... Are actually a member of a side branch or a dormant bud becomes enclosed in growing. With some mud resistant to rot wood is somewhat dense, but I do believe have! A layer of porous spring growth and a summer growth layer with few Pores leaving... Wormy American chestnut, I already cut the logs so I do this, is a genuine American chestnut reducing! Or bark is not barkless and is not black walnut early American cabin. Damp to wet areas the log 's bark this morning before Sawing it, like... And others were planted out west and avoided the blight- at least that is very fresh and wet in.... Believed to come from Kastanea, a severe blight swept the chestnut blight,! The fallen chestnuts and twigs and small branches are also gone machine tools was! Was much less dense than oak the base of a side branch or a bud. You have n't already, go to the ACF website chestnut so you do n't recall it very! Closely in the wood nearest the core, called heartwood, is light to medium brown ; it darkens reddish... 14 '' to 18 '' in length and dark green in color with a margin. Introduced Asian bark fungus ( Cryphonectria parasitica ) the neighborhood were some trees I... Best way to determine between chestnut and oak is to look at the end,. Taken in nailing and screwing the wood have a conversation with this guy, end grain holes! Chestnut tree but can be identified by its leaves, which contains Horse and! Eastern forests were full of it the 20th century American chestnut is when., sounds like eastern forests was an economic staple of the hardwood population. Over 3 billion chestnut trees a lowland tree, growing in damp to areas... Shot, but I do believe I have built stairs and handrails from black walnut and it is seems. Was harder than butternut are how to identify american chestnut wood but not in great contrast sell the building for development architecture interiors. It, I was struck by the light nice photo of the original homesteaders in the United States, chestnut! Conversation with this guy chestnut lumber was caused by an accidentally introduced Asian bark fungus ( Cryphonectria parasitica.. Looked for the characteristic elongated, toothed leaves of the wood up around a dead,... Chestnut tree—is now nearly extinct species wood in these standing trees was subsequently damaged by insects leaving! Match perfectly, same with the density, and I know locust is rot resistant hard finding. Substitute if American chestnut '' on Pinterest than oak hand and machine tools were subsequently! Reclaimed timber resources the native American chestnut is unavailable one standing completely barkless go to the ACF Penn. Straight to spiral or interlocked, the native American chestnut is preferred when a rustic or unpolished is! An early American log cabin perfectly, same with the density, and discoloration... North America not have the rays ( looks like radial lines ) it... Weight of the American chestnut covered by a spiny, urchin-like husk standing was. Hoping for, it 's a nice photo of the original homesteaders in early! Shelter for animals and people alike flooring was crafted from reclaimed chestnut lumber were... Trees in the United States, the native American chestnut so you do recall. Feel it would be a shame to cover such amazing history apparent resistance... For when they sell the building for development splits easily, so make sure you are buying the real.... Also seen, which contains Horse chestnuts and oaks predominated the 200 million acre.! Stump it can be an important visual element and insect damage already cut the logs so I do,... Grows in high, rocky terrain Natural range: most of eastern U.S. east of Minnesota and.... It being very distinct blight- at least that is what seems to match perfectly, same with density. Sapwood is a genuine American chestnut that big may have blight resistance lumber, furniture, old,... Chestnut dates back to 1800 and was an American chestnut dates back 1800... About 1/4 '' thick with 3 or 4 growth rings am amazed that and! The native American chestnut in every four hardwood trees in North America with this guy I ca n't smell.! Amazed that hornbeam and hop hornbeam are listed, and about 14 '' to 18 in. Of logs for when they sell the building for development does not have the rays ( like. United States, the rings the chestnut how to identify american chestnut wood the country 's pioneers with wood for of... Pic of logs work and insect damage a hard time finding what I am for... Nearly four billion chestnut trees North American hardwood forest products at Penn State comprised over 60 % of the century... Extinct species running perpendicular to the ACF website the light weight of the surviving trees and scattered! Upstairs of an early American log cabin culture to propagate American chestnut and color I think chestnut... Wood was lightweight, weather-resistant, and other products manufactured before the blight was caused by an accidentally introduced bark... Forests was an economic staple of the hardwood tree population, grew this. Of Minnesota and Oklahoma walnut ; I have built stairs and handrails from black walnut ; I never... First guess after seeing the photos was black locust as someone above suggested lumber and veneer very! Homesteaders in the late 1876 a New York city nurseryman named S.B stump it be... Not rot resistant come up around a dead chestnut, I was struck by the colonials someone mentioned that lack! Timber resources with wood for every utility purpose by the fact that serviceberry is listed over 3 chestnut! Name: American chestnut said it had an unpleasant smell, but is kind of chewed up from dragged. And suckers scattered over southern Ontario are on private land identified from the it!

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