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COSEWIC assessment and status report on the American Chestnut in Canada

Special Significance of the Species

This was perhaps the most important deciduous forest tree species of eastern North America before the arrival of the blight fungus. Its lumber was easily worked and very durable, being used for a number of purposes from cabinetry and farm equipment to fence posts and rails. The nuts were an important food source for various wild mammals and birds as well as being valuable for both human and livestock food. There is considerable interest in both Canada and the United States in restoring this species to its former forest position.

Aboriginal peoples are reported to have made great use of this species in numerous medicinal remedies and as a staple food; the nuts were used directly or made into bread, a beverage or mixed with other staples such as corn. The wood had many uses in building and the bark was used to make a brown dye (Native American Ethnobotany Database, accessed May 2001).