Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Sweet Chestnut, Spanish Chestnut
Castanea sativa

Family: Fagaceae (fag-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Castanea (kas-TAN-nee-uh) (Info)
Species: sativa (sa-TEE-vuh) (Info)

7 members have or want this plant for trade.

Edible Fruits and Nuts

Unknown - Tell us

over 40 ft. (12 m)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer

Grown for foliage
Good Fall Color

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From hardwood cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
By grafting
By budding

Seed Collecting:
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds

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By philomel
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By philomel
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By Gustichock
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There are a total of 21 photos.
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3 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral coriaceous On Mar 3, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This species is not resistant to chestnut blight. Its planting is legally restricted in some areas within the native range of the American chestnut (C. dentata).

Positive Resin On Jun 30, 2008, Resin from Northumberland
United Kingdom (Zone 9a) wrote:

Very attractive large tree (up to 35m tall) with bold, glossy foliage, and edible, sweet nuts. Late to leaf in spring, but holds leaves well into autumn.

Although native to the eastern Mediterranean region with very hot, dry summers, it is also surprisingly adaptable to the cold, wet summers of northern Britain, producing viable seed and regenerating naturally even in northern Scotland.

Neutral Gustichock On Feb 19, 2006, Gustichock from Tandil
Argentina (Zone 10b) wrote:

I love the shape of this tree. It looks vigorous when it grows and gives you the idea that its wood is quite hard. I don't know why!
Anyway! One thing I don't like about it, are the flowers. I mean, they look OK but when the tree is blooming, I'm not sure if that "disitnctive scent" is pleasant at all! It gives me nausea! It reminds me of the Ceratonia siliqua! They both kind of stink! I can't be close to this tree when it blooms!

Positive frostweed On Oct 6, 2004, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Hello Philomel, I was born in Spain and grew up in the south in Cordoba.
I lived with my aunt in the mountains and there were many chestnut trees around there. We loved picking them and eating them roasted which makes them delicious. Also if you let them cure for about a month after harvest the inner membrane will separate very easily and they are very sweet and nutty tasting. Your picture brought back a lot of pleasant memories.

Neutral Monocromatico On Sep 25, 2004, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

Over here people apreciate it in the "portuguese manner", boiled in water. The nut can be "peeled" with a knife, and the edible part becomes soft.

I dont like it very much, personally. This boiled chestnut tastes like nothing to me.

On a side note, the portuguese colonizers in Brazil brought these nuts with them and planted in cooler places. But the chestnut was so popular, that they even associated the brown color with the chestnut portuguese name "castanha" (from latin Castanea, which is the scientific name of this genus), as the chestnut shell has a strong brown color. Nowadays, we here in Brazil use a lot the word "castanha" or "castanho" as a common synonym for "brown".

Positive philomel On Sep 25, 2004, philomel from Castelnau RB Pyrenes
France (Zone 8a) wrote:

This makes an extremely handsome large tree (100' tall by 50' wide or so) when left to reach its full potential. The flowers are long hanging creamy yellow tassels which have a very disitnctive scent. Where just a few specimens occur this can be quite pleasant but when a whole wood is flowering I find the scent too sickly sweet. The bark becomes interestingly ridged as the tree matures and the leaves turn a rich yellow in autumn before they fall.

The fruits are held within a prickly outer coat. When released they are a very beautiful shiny reddish 'chestnut' brown. They were a staple form of starch in many southern european countries - much used here in SW France - despite being very fiddly to prepare as the thin skin clinging to the wrinkled cream coloured kernel of the nuts is very bitter and difficult to remove.
Many people enjoy them roasted in their shells (over an open fire LOL), when this skin becomes more easily removable.

In SE England, Kent and Sussex in particular, there are many acres of Sweet Chestnut coppice. These trees are managed in a rotational coppicing. Short rotation coppicing is done every 3 to 5 years to produce walking sticks, bean poles and smaller fencing items. Long rotation coppicing is done every 15 to 25 years and the resulting timber is used for fencing and rustic furniture etc.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)
Bushnell, Florida

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