American chestnut (Castanea dentata), once a primary constituent of the eastern hardwood forest ecosystem, was nearly extirpated from the forest canopy by the accidental introduction of chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica). An intensive breeding program has sought to breed blight resistance from Chinese chestnut into American chestnuts, while maintaining as much of the desirable American chestnut phenotypes as possible. Previous studies suggest that these blight resistant American chestnuts, termed “restoration chestnuts”, are capable of thriving on reclaimed surface mines. We direct seeded pure Chinese, pure American, and three backcross lines into brown sandstone minesoil on a mine site in Pike County, KY. To investigate the effects of tree sheltering on survival and growth, we installed tree shelters on half the plots, and left the rest of the plots unsheltered. Results indicated that shelters were highly effective at reducing initial mortality. In addition, while pure Chinese chestnut survival was highest, the three backcross lines have also survived well on this site. Our study demonstrates that American, Chinese, and backcrossed chestnuts can survive through five growing seasons on reclaimed surface mines with the use of tree shelters.

Document Type


Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

Published in Forests, v. 6, no. 10, p. 3514-3527.

© 2015 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Funding Information

Funding for this project was provided by the American Chestnut Foundation through a grant from the United States Department of Interior, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.