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

Connecticut Chapter Menu

National Facebook

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons

The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) is hiring! We're seeking a highly organized full-time Operations Specialist. The Operations Specialist is the face of TACF and is the first point of contact for all visitors to the national office in Asheville. They will balance a variety of responsibilities and must possess a high degree of flexibility, professional attitude, and initiative. The ideal candidate will understand a nonprofit environment and have a strong commitment to service.

Applications close at 12:00PM on March 22, 2024. Please visit the employment page for a complete job description and additional details. tacf.org/employment/
... See MoreSee Less

The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) is hiring! Were seeking a highly organized full-time Operations Specialist. The Operations Specialist is the face of TACF and is the first point of contact for all visitors to the national office in Asheville. They will balance a variety of responsibilities and must possess a high degree of flexibility, professional attitude, and initiative. The ideal candidate will understand a nonprofit environment and have a strong commitment to service.

Applications close at 12:00PM on March 22, 2024. Please visit the employment page for a complete job description and additional details. https://tacf.org/employment/

Who's up for a roadtrip? If you live in the New England region there are a couple great opportunities to connect with a state chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation this weekend!

The CT-TACF Chapter will be hosting a table at the Hartford Flower and Garden Show in Hartford, CT Feb 22-25 (tacf.org/event/tacf-at-the-hartford-flower-and-garden-show/)

And the ME-TACF Chapter will be hosting a table at the Cabin Fever Reliever in Brewer, ME on Saturday, Feb 24 (tacf.org/event/cabin-fever-reliever/).

Find more events near you on the TACF Events Calendar! tacf.org/events
... See MoreSee Less

Whos up for a roadtrip? If you live in the New England region there are a couple great opportunities to connect with a state chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation this weekend!

The CT-TACF Chapter will be hosting a table at the Hartford Flower and Garden Show in Hartford, CT Feb 22-25 (https://tacf.org/event/tacf-at-the-hartford-flower-and-garden-show/)

And the ME-TACF Chapter will be hosting a table at the Cabin Fever Reliever in Brewer, ME on Saturday, Feb 24 (https://tacf.org/event/cabin-fever-reliever/). 

Find more events near you on the TACF Events Calendar! https://tacf.org/events

Yes! The 2023 Annual Report of The American Chestnut Foundation is here! We are extremely proud of the accomplishments of TACF volunteers, collaborators, supporters, and staff in our 40th year.

This beautiful report reads more like a magazine and is packed with inspiration, beautiful graphics, and gratitude to the people like you you who made all of this work possible. Sure, we had our share of ups and downs in 2023, but together we're moving forward stronger and filled with optimism. Here's to another great year of progress toward restoring the American chestnut!

View the Annual Report here: tacf.org/about-us/financials/
... See MoreSee Less

4 days ago
The American Chestnut Foundation

... See MoreSee Less

The American chestnut, Castanea dentata, once dominated portions of the eastern U.S. forests. Numbering nearly four billion, the tree was among the largest, tallest, and fastest-growing in these forests. The range extended from Mississippi to southern Ontario and as far northeast as Maine.

In the late 1800’s a deadly blight from Asia was introduced, and in about 50 years, the pathogen, Cryphonectria parasitica, reduced the American chestnut from its huge heights to a tree that now grows mostly as an early-successional-stage shrub.

Despite its demise, the American chestnut is not extinct. The blight cannot kill the underground root system, and stump sprouts grow vigorously in cutover or disturbed sites where there is plenty of sunlight, but inevitably succumb to the blight.

The American Chestnut Foundation is working to develop a blight-resistant American chestnut tree through scientific research and breeding, and to restore the tree to its native range in the eastern United States.

Visit our website tacf.org to learn more about this iconic tree species.
... See MoreSee Less

The American chestnut, Castanea dentata, once dominated portions of the eastern U.S. forests. Numbering nearly four billion, the tree was among the largest, tallest, and fastest-growing in these forests. The range extended from Mississippi to southern Ontario and as far northeast as Maine. 

In the late 1800’s a deadly blight from Asia was introduced, and in about 50 years, the pathogen, Cryphonectria parasitica, reduced the American chestnut from its huge heights to a tree that now grows mostly as an early-successional-stage shrub. 

Despite its demise, the American chestnut is not extinct. The blight cannot kill the underground root system, and stump sprouts grow vigorously in cutover or disturbed sites where there is plenty of sunlight, but inevitably succumb to the blight. 

The American Chestnut Foundation is working to develop a blight-resistant American chestnut tree through scientific research and breeding, and to restore the tree to its native range in the eastern United States. 

Visit our website tacf.org to learn more about this iconic tree species.

21 CommentsComment on Facebook

This map is missing a big area of SE Michigan where chestnut historically grew.

I know of 2 Americans Chestnuts in the Fort Mill SC area. Or I did. My grandfather used to point them out all the time when we were hunting in the woods. But this area has grown up so much I don’t know if they’re there anymore. They were maybe 200 yards off of Sugar Creek down towards the Lancaster/York county line. He would always talk about how many there used to be.

I planted two hybrid American Chestnuts in southern Minnesota....fingers crossed this spring

I hope they are successful. It was a mighty tree.

I hope they are successful.

Barnwood Builders on TV occasionally comes across a cabin or barn with timber made from the chestnut tree. The wood is beautiful.

I would love to hear an update on the state lands that had a forest fire a few years back in I think Tennessee or North Carolina? The area had many stump sprouts that stay like that because the sunlight can’t get to them to shoot to the sky . Well I would like to know if anyone has been to the forest to see the American chestnut sprouts that should be up above the other slow growing trees that will resprout . Can we get a update please

There were two cut down at the end of our street in NJ. I’m sure the root system could be worked to start new trees

Been reading about American chestnut resurrection for forty years. I just ignore it now.

So when y'all gonna drop 'em on us? I got yard space mapped out for it.

Any idea when gmo chestnut will be released?

Anyone know how many documented survivors there are?

I’ve been waiting my entire adult life for the return of the American Chestnut. Year after year it seems to never get any closer. With genetic science, gene splicing and the like, it seems like it should be right around the corner. I hope I get to live long enough to see that day.

Is there any understanding of why there are gaps in Maine?

Our greatest ecological disaster.

When you take into account the enormous economic impact this blight created, pretty sure it was a contributing factor in the great depression. Homesteaders and landowners in a HUGE section of the east coast suddenly lost a MAJOR cash crop in just a few short years, the chestnuts themselves, which were used for both human and livestock consumption, and shipped across the country in railcars. Wildlife of all manner depended on the chestnuts, and they suffered a dramatic decline in numbers because of the blight. Wildlife populations plummeted because of the sudden loss of massive amounts of food. The wood itself was highly prized, being insect and rot resistant. One of the most sought after woods in America, and logged heavily. It is estimated that there were once over 3 BILLION healthy, mature trees before the blight. Now there are just a handful of healthy trees in the entire country.

What level of blight resistance has TACF achieved at this point?

Before climate change?

also missing southern Ontario Canada

It's gone. The passenger pigeon is gone. The economic activity from a century ago is gone. It's done, y'all.

“… Across the Northeast, forests are haunted by the ghosts of American giants. A little more than a century ago, these woods brimmed with American chestnuts—stately Goliaths that could grow as high as 130 feet tall and more than 10 feet wide. Nicknamed “the redwoods of the East,” some 4 billion American chestnuts dotted the United States’ eastern flank, stretching from the misty coasts of Maine down into the thick humidity of Appalachia. …Susan Freinkel noted in her 2009 book, “a perfect tree.” Its wood housed birds and mammals; its leaves infused the soil with minerals; its flowers sated honeybees that would ferry pollen out to nearby trees. In the autumn, its branches would bend under the weight of nubby grape-size nuts. When they dropped to the forest floor, they’d nourish raccoons, bears, turkey, and deer. For generations, Indigenous people feasted on the nuts, split the wood for kindling, and laced the leaves into their medicine. Later on, European settlers, too, introduced the nuts into their recipes and orchards, and eventually learned to incorporate the trees’ sturdy, rot-resistant wood into fence posts, telephone poles, and railroad ties. The chestnut became a tree that could shepherd people “from cradle to grave,” …” www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2023/12/american-chestnut-perfect-tree-restoration/676927/

View more comments

Load more
   

Subscribe to the CT Chapter Newsletter

* indicates required