50 years to reach maturity
Wild-harvested and grown commercially across Europe. The traditional method of harvest is to allow the nuts to fall to the ground. It splits open at maturity, usually when they drop to the ground. Step on the capsules to split open. Interception of chestnuts in nets either on the ground or suspended above the ground helps to gather.
More images of Sweet Chestnut
Sweet Chestnut Overview
Castanea sativa is a large, deciduous tree species from the Fagaceae family. It is commonly known by the names Sweet Chestnut, Spanish Chestnut, Common Chestnut and European Chestnut, amongst others. This plant produces edible nuts, enclosed in spiny burrs, termed Chestnuts. The female flowers develop into tasty chestnuts, protected by the spiny outer casing, dropping to the ground as they ripen. The leaves turn a glorious yellow before falling in autumn. So not only is the Chestnut a large fast-growing tree with delicious edible nuts that are widely used in the culinary and medicinal applications, but also a handsome specimen to grow in a garden or a park.
Common problems with Sweet Chestnut
Susceptible to Chestnut blight fungus and aphids. Young trees can suffer from squirrel damage.
How to propagate Sweet Chestnut
Where possible sow the seed as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame or in a seed bed outdoors. Has a short viability and must not be allowed to become dry. Germination in late winter/early spring.
The cultivars are propagated by budding in the summer.
Special features of Sweet Chestnut
Once established, it is very drought tolerant.
Attracts useful insects
Attractive to insects such as bees, as well as micro-moths.
The leaves turn a beautiful yellow before falling.
The nuts are an important food for birds including jays and pigeons.
Other uses of Sweet Chestnut
A good source of tannins and useful in the treatment of bleeding, diarrhoea etc. The leaves and bark are anti-inflammatory, astringent, expectorant and tonic, use to treat various illnesses.
Ripe, roasted or baked seeds (nuts). Important as a nut or even a flour in confectionery, patisserie & sweet desserts. Also provides food to some animals.