How to Get American Chestnut Seeds and Seedlings from TACF
The American Chestnut Foundation is excited that you want to support its mission to restore the American chestnut by planting chestnut trees. The two types of plant material available to current members of TACF are wild-type American chestnut seedlings and hybrid American chestnut seeds. Both are only available in the spring. Learn more below.
American Chestnut Seedlings
Become a member at any level to receive email access to participate in TACF’s Annual Wild-Type American Chestnut Seedling Sale in March.
Read important information about the seedlings and sale below.
Hybrid American Chestnut Seeds
with Intermediate Blight Resistance
Become a Seed Level member to receive the annual gift of hybrid American chestnut seeds mailed to you every spring.
Read important information about the seeds and distribution below.
Bareroot Wild-Type American Chestnut Seedlings
All TACF members, regardless of membership level, will receive email access to participate in TACF’s Annual Wild-Type Seedling Sale, typically held in March.
A “wild-type” American chestnut tree is one that has not been intentionally hybridized with other chestnut species. While these 6-18″ tall bareroot seedlings are not resistant to blight fungus, they can thrive for many years and produce nuts for harvest and consumption with proper site selection and care.
Growing wild-type American chestnut seedlings helps preserve genetic diversity within the species for future breeding and wild adaptation, and also provides an opportunity to practice planting and maintaining American chestnut trees on your unique site.
Important Information About TACF's Annual Seedling Sale
- This is an extremely popular annual sale exclusively for current TACF members.
- Seedling quantities are limited and are for sale while supplies last. Seedlings sell out quickly every year.
- Seedlings are grown and shipped from TACF partner nurseries.
The seeds used to grow the seedlings in this program are collected from verified American chestnut trees (Castanea dentata) in the wild, or from Germplasm Conservation Orchards (GCO) that are not in close proximity to known hybrid chestnuts or other non-C. dentata chestnut trees. They are not sourced from or near our Meadowview Research Farm property. Because the source trees are open-pollinated, TACF cannot guarantee that seeds were not naturally pollinated by other chestnut species; in all but the rarest of cases, our wild-type seedlings are American chestnuts.
Seedlings are sold in bundles.
- Bundle sizes and maximum purchase limits are dependent upon availability and are determined from year to year.
- The cost of a bundle includes shipping.
- Seedlings are shipped with bare roots, without planting medium or a pot.
- Seedlings cannot be shipped to a P.O. Box.
- In order to prevent the spread of contagions from the native range, no seedlings will be shipped to states west of the Mississippi River, nor outside the contiguous United States.
- A private link with purchasing instructions is emailed to members two days before the sale goes live. Another is emailed the morning of the sale just before it starts. This link is exclusively for members and should not be shared with others.
- Be sure to check your spam folder, especially if you are a new member, and please update TACF if your email address changes.
- New members must join at least five days prior to the sale to participate.
- Viability of wild-type American seedlings is not guaranteed by TACF.
- Proceeds from this sale help fund research to rescue this foundational species.
Hybrid Chestnut Seeds from Meadowview Research Farms
Joining TACF at one of its seed levels means that, in addition to receiving access to TACF’s Annual Wild-Type American Chestnut Seedling Sale, your membership will include a certain number of hybrid seeds from its research farms in Meadowview, Virginia to plant as you wish.
These hybrid seeds are approximately 90% American chestnut and 10% Chinese chestnut. They will tolerate blight infection more effectively than an American chestnut, but not as well as a Chinese chestnut. In general, blight will grow rapidly on an American chestnut, more slowly on these hybrids, and do minimal damage to a Chinese chestnut. At this time there is no 100% blight-resistant chestnut seed or seedling and there is no guarantee that any seed will grow free from blight. Scientific efforts toward this goal are part of TACF’s mission.
Survival and health of seedlings depends on multiple factors such as proper site selection and managing competition. Read How to Grow Chestnuts on the TACF Fact Sheets page for information about how to plant your chestnut seeds.
Important Information about TACF's Hybrid Chestnut Seeds
- Chestnut seeds are whole chestnuts that have been cold stratified (overwintered) and are ready to plant upon receipt.
- Your Seed Level Membership is a donation to TACF. Seeds are a gift for Seed Level donations.
- Seeds are shipped once a year in March.
- Your membership donation must be received by January 31st for March delivery. Memberships received after this date will be placed on the following year’s seed distribution list.
- Joining or renewing a lapsed membership at a seed level after the January deadline means that your first seeds will be shipped in March of the following year rather than the year you join.
- Growing TACF’s hybrid seeds requires signing a Germplasm Agreement (GPA).
- GPAs are signed electronically during online membership enrollment or re-enrollment.
- GPAs are mailed to new members who join by sending in TACF’s membership form as part of the new member welcome packet.
- Seeds shipped to states west of the Mississippi River are soaked in a diluted bleach solution to prevent the spread of contagions.
- No seeds will be shipped to California, Oregon, or Washington, nor outside the contiguous United States due to agricultural regulations.
- TACF requests that you contact us within 30 days of receipt of seeds to report any issues.
- Germination rates are not guaranteed by TACF.
American Chestnut Plant Material Available at the Chapter Level
Some TACF chapters offer seed and/or seedling sales to their current chapter members throughout the year.
Become a member of TACF to receive email updates from your local chapter about sales.
Transgenic Darling 58
TACF is thrilled that its members and the general public are excited about obtaining Darling 58 plant material. It is important to understand that developing and preparing this material for distribution is a process that will take years. Once Darling 58 is deregulated, Darling 58 pollen from ESF’s research program will be used to hand-pollinate chestnut trees within the native range. The seed produced will be used to develop seed orchards, which will in turn produce nuts for wider distribution when orchard trees reach reproductive age. This process will take a minimum of seven years. Darling 58 pollen that is distributed for other purposes will take place after this effort has been realized and any subsequent plant material in the form of seeds and seedlings will be made available first to TACF members and then to the public. TACF will need volunteers to help with this herculean effort. We encourage everyone who is excited about Darling 58 to become a member and keep an eye out for opportunities to assist with pollination events. Learn more about Darling 58.
TACF’s American Chestnut Plant Material FAQ
Does TACF Make Recommendations about Where to Purchase American Chestnut Plant Material?
As a nonprofit, TACF does not make recommendations about where to obtain American chestnut plant material becasue it cannot vouch for the authenticity of the plant material nor the practices of a private business.
TACF recommends that you do not purchase seedlings from the native range if you live west of the Mississippi River.
TACF strongly recommends verifying that any seeds you purchase are soaked in a solution to prevent spread of blight and other contagions, especially if they come from the native range.
Why Doesn't TACF Ship Seeds or Seedlings to California, Oregon, or Washington?
TACF does not ship seeds or seedlings to California, Oregon, or Washington because the agricultural regulations of these states do not permit American chestnut plant material to be imported from another state.
Why Doesn't TACF Ship Seeds or Seedlings Outside the Contiguous United States?
TACF does not ship seeds or seedlings outside of the contiguous United States due to shipping regulations.
Why Doesn't TACF Guarantee Its Plant Material?
American chestnut plant materials are made available to current TACF members as a benefit of membership in appreciation for the funding of ongoing scientific research toward restoring this majestic species. TACF is not a retail operation and is not responsible for growing conditions of planted material after shipping.
Why Are Hybrid American Chestnut Seeds Only Intermediate Blight Resistant?
Transferring the trait of blight-resistance from the Chinese chestnut to the American chestnut via generational breeding is one of TACF’s scientific efforts toward restoring the American chestnut to its native range. Unfortunately, there is no single gene in the Chinese chestnut that confers this trait. Instead, there are anywhere from three to 100 genes in the Chinese chestnut that contribute to conferring blight resistance. These genes also show up in different combinations in each individual Chinese tree, making it difficult to breed for this trait with more accuracy. TACF’s science team continues to work toward higher blight resistance in its hybrid American chestnut seeds.