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British Native Trees

Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa)

Sweet Chestnut
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The Sweet Chestnut is a long-lived, fast growing, stately tree native to Britain. Sweet Chestnut's have an average height expectancy of 8m after 10 years ,12m after 20 years and an overall maximum height of 30m. The branches spread widely if left to grow, alternatively it can be coppiced to form small bushes, which have been introduced into Britain, widely planted and naturalised.

The leaves are amongst the longest found in the UK measuring at 10 - 25cm in length, toothed and hairless; however, when the leaves are young they have hair on the underside of the leaf, in autumn these leaves will turn a golden yellow then orange.

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.

Sweet Chestnut is commonly found in the southern parts of Europe, Meditteranean and Asia Minor and it was first introduced and grown in the UK by Romans. It grows well on light and acidy soils and dislikes chalky, heavy soiled environments but is also a drought resistant tree.

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 panelling and beams. If nails or screws need to be entered into the wood the hole is best drilled to prevent splitting.

Related Links

- WikiPedia - Sweet Chestnut
- CountrysideInfo.co.uk - Sweet Chestnut


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