Plants and Animals

Castanea dentata American chestnut

species photo
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

US Status:
State Status: E - Endangered (legally protected)
Global Rank: G4 - Apparently secure
State Rank: S1S2 - Rank is uncertain, ranging from critically imperiled to imperiled

Occurrences

CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Monroe12004
Oakland41981
St. Clair11900
Washtenaw12014
Wayne11994

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.

Habitat

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.

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.

Management Recommendations

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

Survey Methods

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

  • Meander search

    • Survey Period: From first week of May to first week of September

References

Survey References

  • Elzinga, C.L., D.W. Salzer, and J.W. Willoughby. 1998. Measuring and Monitoring Plant Populations. The Nature Conservancy and Bureau of Land Management, Denver. BLM Technical Reference 1730-1. 477pp.
  • Goff, G.F., G.A. Dawson, and J.J. Rochow. 1982. Site examination for Threatened and Endangered plant species. Environmental Management 6(4): 307-316
  • Nelson, J.R. 1984. Rare Plant Field Survey Guidelines. In: J.P. Smith and R. York. Inventory of rare and endangered vascular plants of California. 3rd Ed. California Native Plant Society, Berkeley. 174pp.
  • Nelson, J.R. 1986. Rare Plant Surveys: Techniques For Impact Assessment. Natural Areas Journal 5(3):18-30.
  • Nelson, J.R. 1987. Rare Plant Surveys: Techniques for Impact Assessment. In: Conservation and management of rare and endangered plants. Ed. T.S. Elias. California Native Plant Society, Sacramento. 8pp.

Technical References

  • Barnes, B.V. and W.H. Wagner, Jr. 2004. Michigan Trees. A Guide to the Trees of the Great Lakes Region. Second ed. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. 447pp.
  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 1997. Flora of North America, North of Mexico. Volume 3: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliidae and Hamamelidae. Oxford University Press, New York. 590pp.
  • Gleason, H. A., and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second edition. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 910pp.
  • Gray, A. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany; eighth ed. Van Nostrand Reinghold, New York. 1632pp.
  • Holmgren, N.H. 1998. Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the vascular plants of Northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 937pp.
  • Voss, E. G. 1985. Michigan Flora. Part II. Dicots (Saururaceae-Cornaceae). Bulletin of the Cranbrook Institute of Science and University of Michigan Herbarium. 724pp.