Connecticut Chapter

Orchards in CT

Open the side panel (click icon on the top left of the map) to see the different type of orchards, photos, and more info

Our chapter is working with the CT State, Land Trust organizations, and private land owners to plant chestnuts collected from wild American chestnut trees in the CT forest, grow, cross-breed, and select hybrid chestnut trees to restore the American Chestnut tree in our state and in its native range.

We manage several type of orchard, in partnership with the organization/person who provided the land, depending on the research purpose.

Back-cross Breeding Orchards

Blue on the map.

The back-cross breeding method for chestnut was developed in 1983 and has several key components, each of which requires research orchards for growing trees to be used in selections. The Connecticut Chapter of TACF manages seven back-cross orchards with approximately 3000 BC3F1 Clapper line of resistance, American chestnut backcross material. Each of these was planted from nuts that originated from CT found American chestnut “Mother Trees”

  • The Northern CT Land Trust’s Swann Farm is located in Ellington, CT
  • The Beecher Road Orchard is on Land owned by the Town of Woodbridge, and managed the Woodbridge Land Trust
  • Wigwam Brook is on Land owned by the Litchfield Hills Audubon Society in Litchfield, and managed by Litchfield Hills Audubon
  • Middletown’s Higby Reservoir Site is on Land owned by the City of Middletown, and managed by Middletown Urban Forestry
  • The Salem Orchard is on land owned and managed by Dr. David Bingham.
  • The Great Mountain Forest Orchard is on land owned by the Great Mountain Forest Corporation, and is managed primarily by CT-TACF and the Housatonic Valley Regional High School
  • The Nut Plains Park Orchard is managed by the Guilford Conservation Commission

Seed Orchards

Purple on the map.

One major phase of the breeding program are seed orchards. A seed orchard is the required next step in producing trees for reforestation in CT that have 50% of their DNA from persisting native CT American Chestnut trees that flowered, allowing pollination and collection of nuts. This DNA reflects the native gene pool that is associated with CT’s soils, light periodicity, disease resistance, rainfall patterns, temperature extremes, etc. These factors differ throughout the native chestnut range in the US and even within CT itself. Capturing this diversity is the goal of the CT program, and seed orchards are our organizational focus, and the primary use of our volunteer efforts.

In a seed orchards, we planted 3000 nuts representing crosses between the twenty lines of trees we pollinated and grew in our backcross orchards. We monitor them for resistance and remove the trees until only those very resistant and American chestnut looking trees remain. These trees are 15/16ths “American” in character, morphologically indistinguishable from native American chestnut trees. The key difference is that the resistance to the blight has been bred into them from the Chinese chestnut. Those few trees (twenty) remaining will intercross and produce seed that is expected to grow trees with high resistance to the chestnut blight and the ability to breed true to resistance.

  • Norcross Seed Orchard -Lamb Rd, Stafford – Norcross Wildlife Foundation
  • Winchester Land Trust – Hurlbut Field Parcel – 675 Grantville Rd Winstead, CT 06098 http://www.winchesterlandtrust.org
  • Rock Cobble Farm, South Kent (no public access)

Germ Plasm Conservation Orchard

Green on the map.

A germplasm conservation orchard (GCO) is an orchard collection of diverse wild American chestnut sources. These orchards include sources primarily native to CT, though other sources can be planted as well.  A GCO generally contains 10 seedlings from 10 different mother trees (100 trees) per acre and is often planted over a period of one to several years. We are looking for more land to establish new GCOs (more information here).

  • Manchester Land Conservation Trust GCO – Bush Hill Preserve, 330 Bush Hill Rd., Manchester, CT
  • Wilton Land Conservation Trust GCO – 183 Ridgefield Rd preserve, Wilton, CT

Private properties (no public access)

  • Woodbridge GCO
  • Roxbury GCO
  • Wallingford GCO
  • Haddam Neck GCO
  • Putnam GCO
  • Pomfret GCO

Demonstration & Educational Plantings

Orange on the map.

The various chestnuts; Chinese, Japanese, European, American, even Chinquapin, have different morphology, and what better way to show that an educational planting. We have several educational plantings around the state designed to illustrate the differing morphology, and teach those viewing the display about the chestnut blight story.

  • White Memorial
  • Rocky Top Preserve – Hamden Land Trust (Plantings of several B3F3 hybrid chestnut trees along the Quinnipiac Trail)
  • Deer Lake Scout Reservation – Killingworth (Plantings of several B3F3 hybrid chestnut trees along the Chatfield Trail)
  • Greenwich Land Trust – American Chestnut Sanctuary Orchard (Across the street from 18 Burning Tree Road, Greenwich, CT 06830)

Progeny Testing

There are numerous locations throughout the state where progeny tests are being performed. These are nuts grown at the Meadowview seed orchards (intercrossed trees) as a result of open pollination. This means the mother tree is known and is selected for maximum resistance, and while the father tree is not known, all have likely been selected for resistance. Of course with open pollinations one can never be sure. This is a type of planting with which an individual or organization can participate in either a small or large scale… both contributing to our understanding of the blight resistance of the latest versions of releasable material. This is a great way for citizen scientists to participate in an ecological restoration project.

  • Zemko Sawmill Site owned by the Salem Land Trust
  • Greenwich Land Trust American Chestnut Sanctuary

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Where did the names Cassie & Denny come from? Mommy chestnut and Daddy chestnut picked them out of a baby names book. Or you can find out the true origin story by watching this episode. ... See MoreSee Less

Georgia friends, join the GA Chapter of TACF for a screening of our documentary Clear Day Thunder: Rescuing the American Chestnut.

This event takes places Thursday, May 30 at 7:00PM at the historic DeSoto Theatre in Rome, GA. Visit tacf.org/event/ga-rome-international-film-festivals-screening-of-clear-day-thunder/ for more details or to get free tickets to this screening.
... See MoreSee Less

Georgia friends, join the GA Chapter of TACF for a screening of our documentary Clear Day Thunder: Rescuing the American Chestnut. 

This event takes places Thursday, May 30 at 7:00PM at the historic DeSoto Theatre in Rome, GA. Visit https://tacf.org/event/ga-rome-international-film-festivals-screening-of-clear-day-thunder/ for more details or to get free tickets to this screening.

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Gay Ziska:)

Don't worry, if you were already following us before, you still are! This new handle allows us to stay consistent across platforms. ... See MoreSee Less

Dont worry, if you were already following us before, you still are! This new handle allows us to stay consistent across platforms.

Denny's are still hanging on, but Cassie has already dropped them. What could it be? Learn a bit of tree anatomy and discover a new trick to identify chestnut tree species in this week's Cassie & Denny.

And be sure to tune in next week when we explain the origin of the names Cassie & Denny!
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