Castanea sativa is a species of the flowering plant which the tree and its edible seeds are referred to a common name Sweet Chestnut.
DistributionEditOriginally native to southeastern Europe and Asia Minor, it is now widely dispersed throughout Europe. The trees are hardy, long lived and well known, especially for its chestnuts which are used as an ingredient in cooking
Castanea sativa is a medium-sized to large deciduous tree attaining a height of 20-35 m with a trunk often 2 m in diameter. The oblong-lanceolate, boldly toothed leaves are 16-28 cm long and 5-9 cm broad.
The flowers of both sexes are borne in 10-20 cm long, upright catkins, the male flowers in the upper part and female flowers in the lower part. In the northern hemisphere, they appear in late June to July, and by autumn, the female flowers develop into spiny cupules containing 3-7 brownish nuts that are shed during October. They can be harvested and eaten but the majority of sweet chestnuts sold commercially in Britain are imported from hortter reigons as those which grow in Britain don't often reach the size required.
The female flowers eventually form a spiny sheath that deters predators from the seed. Some cultivars ("Marron de Lyon, Paragon' and some hybrids) produce only 1 large nut, rather than the average 2 to 4 nuts of edible size. The bark often has a net-shaped (retiform) pattern with deep furrows or fissures running spirally in both directions up the trunk.
The tree requires a mild climate and adequate moisture for good growth and a good nut harvest. Its year-growth (but not the rest of the tree) is sensitive to late spring and early autumn frosts, and is intolerant of lime. Under forest conditions it will tolerate moderate shade well.