Castanea dentata
American chestnut
Image of Castanea dentata

Photo by Susan R. Crispin 

Key Characteristics

Tall tree of southern oak forests, often killed and reduced to stump sprouts by disease; leaves elliptical with sharp teeth; buds small and rounded; fruit a nut enclosed in a bristly husk.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: E
  • State Rank: S1S2
  • Global Rank: G4


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
St. Clair11900
Distribution map for Castanea dentata

Updated 5/15/2018. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


This species was once a co-dominant in upland forests in southeastern Lower Michigan, now existing as rare scattered individuals and persistent stump sprouts that eventually succumb to the chestnut blight, which remains present in secondary hosts. While numerous specimens and stands have been planted across the state, only naturally growing trees in its native range (southern Lower Michigan) are usually tracked.

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

Basswood, sugar maple, beech, bitternut hickory, spicebush, leatherwood, red baneberry, goldenseal, ginseng, wild ginger, and trillium.


With chestnut blight still present, there is little that can be done to protect this species unless disease resistant strains are introduced.

General Survey Guidelines

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgment of the investigator.

Survey Methods

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at [Accessed Sep 25, 2018]


Survey References

Technical References

Facebook link