Scion wood collection for southern American chestnut conservation

Published November 27, 2023

You can help conserve the American chestnut by collecting scion wood

The American Chestnut Foundation is seeking scion wood from wild American chestnut trees from the southern population. (Scion wood is the name for the twigs used in grafting and propagating woody plants.)

Population studies have determined that trees found in Western TN and KY, GA, AL, and MS represent the southern population and are the most genetically diverse.  The objectives of this collection are to:

  1. Conserve genetic diversity of unique and underrepresented populations of American chestnut through grafting.
  2. Grow these grafted plants in favorable conditions (including growth chambers) to promote flowering and ease of pollen collection.
  3. Future utilization of pollen and flowers to outcross transgenic chestnut.

Goal for 2024: Gather around 100 sources from the south

Download a PDF copy of the information sheet


Important: Collected scion wood must be from CONFIRMED AMERICAN CHESTNUTS ONLY.

  • Coordinate with Jamie Van Clief at for the collection of this scion wood.
  • Scion wood collection should be done during winter dormancy only, which is commonly marked by the loss of leaves or brown leaves dangling (flagged) on their branches. Ideally, collected from December 2023 through January 2024.
  • It may be necessary to visit sites twice: once, before winter dormancy to ensure species can be identified to the American chestnut, particularly in areas where they co-occur with chinquapin. Second, when trees have gone dormant to collect scion wood.
  • Scion wood should be at least 3 inches long and contain 1 or more unopened buds. With nut grafting, larger buds with space in between buds are preferred (see photos below).
  • We are looking for scions that are about the size of the lead in a number 2 pencil. Last year we did receive some scion that was too large in diameter.
  • Collect 10 pieces of scion wood per tree, when possible. At a minimum, we are looking for about 15 buds. However, use judgment when collecting from small trees to not jeopardize the tree’s survival by over-collecting.
  • Take GPS coordinates from each tree using the TreeSnap application for smartphones ( or with a GPS unit or smartphone. Ideally, trees have already been ID’d and entered into TACF’s dentataBase.
  • Place scion wood from a single tree in a one-gallon sealable bag.
  • For each tree, place a note card in the bag and send an email containing:
    • Data collected
    • County
    • State
    • Latitude and Longitude
    • Previously used for breeding or not: Yes, No, or Unknown
    • TreeSnap ID or wild tree code from Regional Science Coordinator (if applicable)
    • Public or Private land (do not trespass!)
  • Before sealing, place the card in the bag, then roll the bag from the bottom to the top to remove excess air.
  • Do not write on the bag as even permanent markers will fade or be scratched off during handling and storage. Temporary writing on bags is fine, but do not rely on them for storage.
  • Do not place a damp paper towel in the bag. Moisture from the towel commonly causes mold during storage.
  • If desired place them in damp (NOT WET!) peat moss in the bag. The peat moss should be damp enough that you can squeeze it into a ball but not so damp you can squeeze water out of it.
  • While in the field, store scion wood in a cooler with cold packs and place it in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer until shipping. Do not place it in the freezer.
  • Please ship scion wood no later than 2-3 weeks after collection.


    Ship on Sunday through Wednesday via 2-day shipping to the attention of Steven Flurry. Do not ship on Thursday or Friday.

    Steven Flurry
    23332 Success Road
    Saucier MS, 39574

    Please send Steven and Jamie the shipping tracking number and scion information so everyone knows what’s been shipped. TACF will cover the cost of shipping. Contact Jamie ( for FedEx or UPS account info. In the memo section of the shipping document, and on the box please write “southern scion” so that TACF and USFS can track the shipping costs and packages associated with this project.

    Contact information:

    Scion- Steven Flurry

    Jamie Van Clief
    828-281-0047, ext. 1107

    Ship samples on cold packs and in a small foam cooler, if possible.



    • Sealable gallon freezer bags
    • GPS unit or smartphone with TreeSnap (
    • Permanent marker for making notes on cards
    • Note cards or paper
    • Pruners hand and/or pole, depending on tree size
    • Cooler and cold packs

    Example photos

    example of correct size buds for scion wood collection of American chestnut

    This is the preferred size of buds.

    scion wood examples

    In the picture on the left the top 2 buds are acceptable but the buds below it are on the small side. In the picture on the right the buds are too small.

    how to package scion wood in a sealable bag

    An example of how you should package the scion wood.