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My father is wanting to get and plant a few trees this year. One that he's been talking my ear off about is one that he used to eat the nuts of when he was younger.

Keeping in mind that his childhood is a ways back and recollection could be off, he grew up in the mountains of North Carolina. He said the tree is a chestnut tree. He thinks it was wild. Whether it was wild or a bought tree that animals or nature propagated I don't know. He said it had the green spiky pods that chestnuts have. He said he always heard them called 'chinkapins'. It's possible that this is just one of those things, though, where everyone in an area calls it something, but it's actually something else. The reason I think it's not an 'Alleghany Chinkapin' is that they appear to only have one nut inside the pod. He claims that the ones he would eat as a child would contain roughly 10 small nuts the size of peanuts.

Does anyone have any idea what this tree might be so that we can locate and plant one? Thank you.

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  • I've heard hazelnuts (wrongly) called that before. – J. Musser Apr 16 '15 at 21:25
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Hmm, I wonder if the term 'chinkapins' might be slang for the Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima) or Japanese chestnut (C. crenata) - these produce between 2/3 and 3/4 nuts in each prickly pod. The American chestnut (Castanea dentata) was largely wiped out by Chestnut Blight, but some areas are managing to grow them again. This tree also produced about 3 nuts per pod, and it seems none of the varieties of sweet chestnut produce as many nuts per pod as your father remembers. That doesn't mean the tree he remembers didn't produce lots of nuts per pod - variation occurs frequently in plants and fruits, and sometimes cultural conditions are a cause, specially with those left to their own devices.

Wikipedia says the term 'chinquapin' or 'chinkapin' simply refers to various of these trees, not one in particular, although other sources suggest the term was more usually applied to Castanea henryi, commonly known as Henry Chinkipin.

If you're going to plant a chestnut, you'll need at least two, they're self infertile, and need another one nearby.

UPDATE: I've just found images of a chestnut tree with 7 nuts per burr - unfortunately, it doesn't specify which species of Castanea, it justs says it's growing at the Luther Burbank test garden, which appears to be in California. The experimental part of the garden seems to be Gold Ridge Farm in Sebastopol, California. The short bit of info with the picture says that "intense breeding work [on hazelnuts and chestnuts] is being carried out by Badgersett Research Corp", who appear to supply plants, which might imply there are, indeed, varieties of chestnut currently available of this type. I copied their link address below:

http://www.badgersett.com/

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