Castanea sativa (Sweet Chestnut)
Other Names: Spanish Chestnut, Chestnut
Description: A large, long lived deciduous tree first introduced by the Romans for its edible nuts. The bark is a dark grey-purple colour but develops deep fissures with age that twist around the trunk which can reach an impressive 2m girth. Bright green leaves are oblong shaped with sharply serrated edges and have a waxy look. Nuts are contained within a heavily spiked husk.
Uses: Sweet Chestnut timber is similar to Oak but is lighter and easier to work. When young it has a straight grain which makes it useful for making furniture. It is often coppices and the resulting poles can be used to make “Paling” fences. Chestnut is also quite resistant to rotting and so can be used in wet environments. The most common use would probably be the roasting of the nuts at Christmas and the Roman ground the nut to make a course flour.
Conservation Value: The flowers are a useful source of nectar for bees and insects and a large range of micro moths feed on the leaves.
Preferred Locations: This tree prefers sand or loam soils that are well drained. It also prefers a full sun location.
Size: The oldest trees can reach a height of 35m with a canopy of 8m to 10m.
Time to reach full height: At least 50 years.
Lifespan: Amazingly up to 700 years.