Sweet Chestnut (Castanea Sativa)
Sweet chestnuts roasting on an open fire at Christmas, whilst in the kitchen preparations are under way in making chestnut stuffing. A lovely thought, in late summer early autumn the chestnuts ripen to full size, some bursting out of the spiky cases. The chestnuts we buy in shops today are usually imported from France or Italy. Most trees are now planted mainly for their decorative purposes either in parks or gardens.
In July, catkins can be found on the tree. There are both male and female flowers, with there being fewer females on each catkin. The female flowers mature into spiny green fruit, which then produce 1-3 edible chestnuts.
The bark is dark brown and has deep vertical fissures, which spiral up the trunk. Bark from this tree is extremely useful as it is 20% lighter than oak. It can be used out doors, for example as fencing, without being treated even if in contact with damp soil conditions. It can also be used indoors as paneling and beams. If nails or screws need to be entered into the wood the hole is best drilled to prevent splitting.
In the UK, the best known ancient sweet chestnut is the Tortworth Chestnut, here in Gloucestershire. Written records of this remarkable tree go back to the 12th century and it was said to have been a boundary tree to the Tortworth estate at that time.
Sweet Chestnut is a native of the Mediterranean and first introduced and grown in the UK by the Romans, who used the fruits to make a porridge, called pollenta in Latin, which is still eaten but only in the poorer regions of southern Europe. It grows well on light and acidic soils.
in 10yrs-8metres after 20 years 12metres - event hgt 30metres
light soils and gravel not so good on heavy clay or chalk
drought resistant,good background tree,fast growing. Yellow leaves in autumn, sometimes orange