Bush Chinkapin (Castanea alnifolia)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Bush Chinkapin
Castanea alnifolia

The bark, leaves, wood and seed husks all contain tannin.

  • Medicinal Use

    None known

  • Edible Use

    Seed – raw or cooked[105, 177]. Of excellent quality[183]. The seed is small but it is sweet and larger than C. pumila[11, 183] though produced less abundantly[11]. Eaten raw, there is a distinct astringency, especially if the fleshy inner skin beneath the outer shell of the seed is not removed[K]. When cooked, however, and especially when baked, the seed becomes much sweeter and has a floury texture[K]. It then makes an excellent food and can be used as a staple food in much the same way as potatoes or cereals[K]. The burs have less prickles, making it easier to harvest the seed[183].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – where possible sow the seed as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame or in a seed bed outdoors[78]. The seed must be protected from mice and squirrels. The seed has a short viability and must not be allowed to become dry. It can be stored in a cool place, such as the salad compartment of a fridge, for a few months if it is kept moist, but check regularly for signs of germination. The seed should germinate in late winter or early spring. If sown in an outdoor seedbed, the plants can be left in situ for 1 – 2 years before planting them out in their permanent positions. If grown in pots, the plants can be put out into their permanent positions in the summer or autumn, making sure to give them some protection from the cold in their first winter[K]. Division of suckers in winter[200]. They can be planted straight out into their permanent positions.
Prefers a good well-drained slightly acid loam but succeeds in dry soils[1, 11, 200]. Once established, it is very drought tolerant[1, 11, 200]. Very tolerant of highly acid, infertile dry sands[200]. Averse to calcareous soils but succeeds on harder limestones[11, 200]. This species only really thrives in areas with hot summers[200], it may not be hardy in Britain[11]. Another report says that it succeeds in climatic zone 7 and should therefore tolerate temperatures down to at least -10¡c[200]. Usually a small shrub[11], this species occasionally reaches small-tree size (as C. alnifolia floridana. Sarg.)[82] This species is similar to and often confused with C. pumila[1, 11]. An excellent soil-enriching understorey shrub in pine forests[200]. It grows into a clump by means of suckers[183, 200]. Flowers are produced on wood of the current year’s growth[229]. Plants are fairly self-sterile[200]. They hybridize freely with other members of this genus[200]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200].
South-eastern N. America – N. Carolina to Arkansas.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.