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Life History and Disturbance Response of Castanea dentata (American Chestnut)
Family: Fagaceae
Guild: persistent, large seeded, advance growth dependent
Functional Lifeform: formerly a medium to large sized tree
Ecological Role: Once a dominant component of eastern deciduous forests, it has since been nearly exterminated by chestnut blight. It now exists only as stump sprouts. It was commonly found on gravely/rocky well drained, glacial soils. Associated with several species of oaks, hickories, maples and birches
Lifespan, yrs (typical/max): formerly a long lived species
Shade Tolerance: tolerant
Height, m: formerly to 35m now 12-20m
Canopy Tree: yes
Pollination Agent: wind
New Cohorts Source: seeds or sprouts
Flowering Dates: summer
Flowers/Cones Damaged by Frost: yes
Seedfall Begins: early fall
Seed Banking: seasonal, <1 yr
Cold Stratification Required: yes
Seed Type/Dispersal Distance/Agent: nut/50m/gravity, animal
Season of Germination: root, stump, and seedling sprouts have always been an important way that chestnut reproduces and now with a few exceptions is the only means of reproduction
Establishment Seedbed Preferences:
Substrate: variable
Light: variable
Moisture: moist required
Temperature: neutral
Disturbance Response:
Fire: The thin bark and shallow roots make this species very susceptible to fire injury. The thin bark of sprouts following fire makes them very susceptible to any subsequent fire. However, new chestnut root sprouts were able to grow faster after fire than other species sprouts following fire. Studies of sediment cores show increase in chestnut pollen following fire. With the varying sources it seems that chestnut has a very complex relationship with fire and that its response depends on site conditions, fire frequency, fire intensity, and the season of the fire.
Air Pollution: