Chinese and American Chestnuts


Top of Leaves

American Leaf (left):

  • Leaf is long in relation to its width
  • Large, prominent teeth on edge; bristle at the end of each tooth curves inward
  • Base of leaf blade tapers sharply
  • Leaf is very thin and paper

Chinese Leaf (right):

  • Leaf is oval-shaped
  • Teeth are smaller
  • Base of leaf blade is rounded
  • Leaf is thick and waxy-feeling

Underside of Leaves

American Leaf (left):

  • Elongated leaf
  • Large, prominent teeth on edge; bristle on teeth curves inward
  • Blade tapers sharply to meet stem at base of leaf blade
  • Light green underside on leaves exposed to the sun

Chinese Leaf (right):

  • Oval-shaped leaf
  • Small teeth on edge
  • Base of leaf blade rounded
  • Underside of sun leaves look whitish because of many hairs

Buds & Stems

American Buds & Lenticels

  • Pointed buds that angle away from the stem
  • Stems smooth and hairless
  • Stem color reddish brown to dark green
  • Small but numerous lenticels on stem

Chinese Buds and Lenticels

  • Rounded buds that hug the stem
  • Hairy stems and hairy leaf veins
  • Stem color tan to pea-green
  • Large lenticels (bumps) on stem


American Stipules

  • Slender
  • Angle sharply out from stem
  • Usually fall off in June

Chinese Stipules

  • Broad
  • Cover the buds
  • Remain on the stem through September

Burs & Nuts

American & Chinese Burs

American Chestnut Burs (left):

  • A dense mass of long, slender spines
  • Spines are 2 to 3 cm long, 0.5 mm thick
  • Up to 3 nuts per bur

Chinese Chestnut Burs (right):

  • A sparse mass of short, thick spines
  • Spines are 1 to 2 cm long, 1 mm thick
  • Up to 3 nuts per bur

American & Chinese Nuts

American Chestnuts:

  • Nuts are relatively small, 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter
  • Tips of American chestnuts are pointed
  • Nuts are hairy over 1/3 to 2/3 of length from pointed end
  • Vascular bundles in a sunburst pattern on hilum end
  • 2 to 3 nuts in each bur

Chinese Chestnuts:

  • Nuts are relatively large, 3/4 to 2 inches in diameter
  • Tips of Chinese chestnuts are rounded
  • Only the tips of the nuts are hairy
  • Vascular bundles in a diffuse pattern on hilum end
  • 2 to 3 nuts in each bur