[NAFEX] small chestnut trees

Donna &/or Kieran holycow at cookeville.com
Wed Jan 24 22:28:16 EST 2007

     I have some seedlings that came from a half Chinese half chinkapin 
crossed back to chinkapin.  They aren't bearing yet, and I don't know how 
blight resistant they will prove to be.  They came from a NAFEXer in Z7 who 
got the original cross from another NAFEXer in Z7.  They have small long 
leaves and start branching low, obviously on their way to being large shrubs 
instead of trees.  (There is one that apparently backcrossed to chinese 
chestnut, it's leaves and stems are much larger) One other seedling from 
another source bloomed last year and made one small nut that I missed 
getting.  That one is about 8 ft tall.  We do have wild chinks here in Z6, I 
have seen and even dug some, but they do get blight.  The area I have been 
shown that still has living, bearing chinks is very unusual because the 
blight has really reduced the chink population through most of the south.  I 
am concerned that there is a gall wasp that is making it's way north toward 
us, and am hoping that my trees start bearing before it arrives, also I hope 
that SOMEONE with more time and experience than me save some of the local 
chinkapin population.
    There was a clone called "S-8 Jap", sometimes referred to as "Essate 
Jap" produced I think by Dr. Van Fleet when he worked at Beltsville or 
selected by him or more likely by a successor.  I think it was a chink cross 
crossed to C. crenata, tends to make a small tree.  I am told it was 
propagated in the south and is found here and there in older collections of 
plants.  Since these crosses occurred back in the early 1900's, I would be 
quite surprised if someone in Europe didn't have a copy of the clone.  This 
is the only quote I can find on the net referring to it:

" Our first records of crosses between chestnut species typify the whole 
history of chestnut breeding in the U.S.: the work was done by both an 
interested amateur and by a professional botanist. George W. Endicott of 
Villa Ridge, Illinois, was growing `Japan Giant' at the end of the last 
century, and used pollen from an American chestnut tree to produce Japanese 
X American hybrids in 1895. One of these hybrids produced six burs in its 
second year, and was named `Daniel Boone'. This variety was strongly 
self-fertile, which is rare in chestnut (11). The other early hybridization 
work was done by Dr. Walter Van Fleet, then an associate editor of the Rural 
New Yorker Magazine. In 1894 he used pollen of American chestnut on flowers 
of the European (or European-American) cultivar `Paragon' and planted the 
progeny in Little Silver, New Jersey (12). Van Fleet went on to make 
thousands of crosses, using many species, between 1900 and 1921. For his 
early crosses he used the native chinquapin, C. pumila and European and 
Japanese cultivars. In his later work he included Chinese chestnuts, C. 
mollissima Bl. Wild seed of "Castanea species" collected in Tientsin, China, 
were imported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (as PI#34517) and 
planted in 1912 at their Bell (Maryland) Experimental Plot. Van Fleet had 
over 900 of these trees to observe and use there, in addition to subsequent 
importations made by the USDA plant explorer Frank N. Meyer. Van Fleet's S-8 
(its row and tree location in the nursery) was crossed by Arthur Graves in 
Connecticut with a forest-type Japanese to produce the cultivar 'Essate Jap'. 
Van Fleet 's records on the parents of S-8 are not entirely clear, but the 
female parent was given as C. pumila from Virginia (or Washington) and the 
male parent as pollen from "several named varieties of Japan chestnut 
including 'Parry's Giant', 'Killen', and 'Hale'." H. Nienstaedt concluded in 
his 1948 thesis that it looked more like C. crenata X C. pumila, based on 
the results of other crosses of these two species (9)."

There is a rather interesting article to be found on the Net, a translation 
of a Chinese document on chestnuts in China.  If you'd like to have a look, 
it is here:
http://chestnut.cas.psu.edu/PDFs/Journals/Ban_Li.pdf      Wow, I just looked 
at it again myself, it is VERY interesting, stuff like which part of the 
tree to collect scions from for best results.  I have NOT tried grafting 
chestnuts because they are said to be so finicky.  Oh, I take that back, I 
did put some of the Giant Chink (the original cross that my seedlings came 
from) on some chinese seedlings.  I used a bark graft and every one took 
nicely, some even put out catkins, and then every one died in a month or 
two.  They say if you want success, to graft onto seedlings of the tree you 
take scions from.        Donna

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