Time for Sighting Chestnuts

There are certain routes I frequently drive in Connecticut based on certain chores or repetitive tasks … meetings, work, chauffering kids to their sports. One frequent drive is up Route 8 from Bridgeport to Winsted.

I was a little shocked last weekend while making the drive to see (and smell) the brilliant and pungent flowers of a stand of chestnut along the highway. I'd driven the route hundreds, maybe thousands of times, and never seen these trees. Wanting to examine more closely, I pulled off at the next exit, turned around and took a closer look.

Upon closer inspection, the trees were clearly chestnut, though not American. The leaves were exceptionally shiny … waxy even, and had a characteristic morphology of a Chinese chestnut or F1 hybrid.

A view of a stand of beautiful flowering chestnut trees of unknown origins alongside the entrance to Route 8 at Exit 41 in Campville. The flowers were quite magnificent and provided a glimpse of how the hills of CT must have appeared a century ago. Photographer Bill Adamsen [click on photo to see larger version]

Back in the mid to late 20th Century, Arthur Graves of the NY Botanical Garden was making Chestnut Hybrids and planting them all over the state. There are significant Orchards for which he was responsible at White Memorial, Goldmine Road in Roxbury and other locations. I wonder wether this was one of his plantings. Clearly Route 8 didn't exist then as it does today, but the location is close to other known plantings.

While I doubt this has any real scientific interest, it was fun to find, and was a reminder of how the hills must have looked when the majestic American chestnut was in full bloom.

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Bill Adamsen

Bill Adamsen

Bill Adamsen is a member of the CT Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) Board of Directors. He served as Chapter President for eight years.

Bill Adamsen

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