Skip booklet index and go to page content

COSEWIC assessment and status report on the American Chestnut in Canada


Habitat Requirements

Typical habitat is an upland deciduous forest on acid to neutral, sandy soil. Common associates, in order of highest frequency, are red oak (Quercus rubra), black cherry (Prunus serotina), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), American beech (Fagus grandifolia), white ash (Fraxinus americana), white oak (Quercus alba), red maple (Acer rubrum) and sassafras (Sassafras albidum). White pine (Pinus strobus), hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) and black oak (Quercus velutina) are occasional associates. In Canada it is limited to the Carolinian Zone of extreme southern Ontario, where the growing season is long, temperatures extremes are moderated by the lower Great Lakes, summers are warm and moisture is well supplied and fairly uniformly distributed through the seasons.


Because of the occurrence of prime agricultural soils and the long growing season in southern Ontario, the Carolinian Zone has lost much of its natural habitat historically to clearing for agriculture and associated human settlements. Throughout the Carolinian Zone there is a continuing loss or degradation of habitats and connections within the natural landscape. 


Approximately 25% of the Ontario sites are under public ownership. Many of the private landowners are keen to protect and promote the conservation of this species. The Canadian Chestnut Council was founded in 1988 and provides a forum for the dissemination of information and planting stock among interested landowners and researchers. In the late 1990s the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association conducted a special program on the distribution of chestnut seedlings to interested rural landowners, especially in farming communities.