Survey of Chestnuts in the Wild

The existence of the American Chestnut tree in Canada is widespread. Trees have been reported from coast to coast (B.C. to Nova Scotia) and as far north as Thunder Bay, Ontario.

However, the traditional range of the tree is in what is know as the Carolinian zone of Southern

Part 1 - The latest survey analysis of surviving American Chestnuts in Southwestern Ontario (Part 1) – CCC Newsletter Sept. 2017

In the early 1900’s, a Chestnut blight that arrived from Asia, began to wipe out the American Chestnut trees in North America. The American Chestnut tree was an important part of the tree canopy in Southwestern Ontario (the most northern limit of its native range.) Although up to 2,000,000 trees may have once occupied the area, researchers in the labs of Drs. Greg Boland and Brian Husband, from the University of Guelph, (S. Van Drunen et. al.) compared the results of a 2014-2015 survey of trees to an inaugural survey conducted in 2001-2002 by Tindall et al and reported on in 2004.

In the analysis of this comparison, published this summer in the Journal Forest Ecology and Management, the U of G team reported finding more individual specimens of American chestnut in the province than expected. Some 600 trees from the first survey as well as 100 new ones were located. Looking at tree size, reproduction and health status of the trees, the analysis concludes that the population of surviving American Chestnuts in the wild continues to decline as trees become isolated and unable to reproduce. The paper also identifies the need to increased production of new seedlings in natural populations to stem this continuing decline.

Chestnut Council members, Tim Casson (left), John Hill beside two trees in Brant County

Part 2 – Survey of Chestnuts in the wild - CCC Newsletter – March 2017
Southern Ontario marks what is generally regarded as the northern limit of the American Chestnut. Prior to the devastation caused by the blight, the tree provided a substantial contribution to the tree canopy. In the Sept. 2017 issue of the CCC newsletter, we featured the recent publication by University of Guelph researchers on the wild population of American Chestnuts in southern Ontario. The publication compared the results of a survey conducted in 2001 – 2002 (Tindall et al.2004) with a subsequent survey in 2014 -2015 (Van Drunen et. al. 2017).

So how many wild American Chestnuts are there in southern Ontario? – The provincial data base maintained by Stephen Van Drunen at the University of Guelph has approximately 1200 geo referenced trees. (not all alive) The actual number of living trees has been estimated to be as high as 2,000 trees.

Where are they? A review of the data base provides the following information.

Over 50 % of the live trees in the wild are found in Haldimand-Norfolk

Trees found alive by County

From – Population dynamics and the influence of blight on American chestnut at 2 its northern range limit: Lessons for conservation- Van Drunen et. al 201

American Chestnuts in the Wild – you can help

The University of Guelph, department of Environmental Sciences maintains the data base of American Chestnuts in the wild. You can help.

Do you know the location of an American Chestnut tree in the wild?

 If so, see the Resources tab on the CCC home page and in the drop down menu find Reporting a Chestnut. Fill out the form and add your find to the data base.