Seed - raw or cooked. A somewhat astringent taste raw, it improves considerably when cooked and is delicious baked with a floury texture and a flavour rather like sweet potatoes[K]. The seed is rich in carbohydrates, it can be dried, then ground and used as a flour in breads, puddings, as a thickener in soups etc. The roasted seed can be used as a coffee substitute. A sugar can be extracted from the seed.
Tannin is obtained from the bark. The wood, leaves and seed husks also contain tannin. The husks contain 10 - 13% tannin. On a 10% moisture basis, the bark contains 6.8% tannin and the wood 13.4%. The meal of the seed has been used as a source of starch and also for whitening linen cloth. A hair shampoo is made from the leaves and the skins of the fruits. It imparts a golden gleam to the hair. Wood - hard, strong, light. The young growing wood is very durable, though older wood becomes brittle and liable to crack. It is used for carpentry, turnery, props, basketry, fence posts etc. A very good fuel.
Although more commonly thought of as a food crop, sweet chestnut leaves and bark are a good source of tannins and these have an astringent action useful in the treatment of bleeding, diarrhoea etc. The leaves and bark are anti-inflammatory, astringent, expectorant and tonic. They are harvested in June or July and can be used fresh or dried. An infusion has been used in the treatment of fevers and ague, but are mainly employed for their efficacy in treating convulsive coughs such as whooping cough and in other irritable conditions of the respiratory system. The leaves can also be used in the treatment of rheumatism, to ease lower back pains and to relieve stiff muscles and joints. A decoction is a useful gargle for treating sore throats. The plant is used in Bach flower remedies - the keywords for prescribing it are 'Extreme mental anguish', Hopelessness' and 'Despair'.
Seed - where possible sow the seed as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame or in a seed bed outdoors. The seed must be protected from mice and squirrels. The seed has a short viability and must not be allowed to become dry. It can be stored in a cool place, such as the salad compartment of a fridge, for a few months if it is kept moist, but check regularly for signs of germination. The seed should germinate in late winter or early spring. If sown in an outdoor seedbed, the plants can be left in situ for 1 - 2 years before planting them out in their permanent positions. If grown in pots, the plants can be put out into their permanent positions in the summer or autumn, making sure to give them some protection from the cold in their first winter[K].
Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Castanea sativa. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.
Prefers a good well-drained slightly acid loam in a sunny position but it also succeeds in dry soils. Once established, it is very drought tolerant. Plants are very tolerant of highly acid, infertile dry sands. Averse to calcareous soils but succeeds on harder limestones. Tolerates maritime exposure though it is slower growing in such a position. The dormant plant is very cold-hardy in Britain, though the young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender[K]. The sweet chestnut is often cultivated for its edible seed in warm temperate zones, there are several named varieties. Both 'Marron de Lyon' and 'Paragon' produce fruits with a single large kernel (rather than 2 - 4 smaller kernels) and so are preferred for commercial production. Sweet chestnuts require a warm dry summer in order to ripen their fruit properly in Britain and even then these seeds are generally inferior in size and quality to seeds grown in continental climates. Most species in this genus are not very well adapted for the cooler maritime climate of Britain, preferring hotter summers, but this species grows well here. An excellent soil-enriching understorey in pine forests. Flowers are produced on wood of the current year's growth and they are very attractive to bees.. Plants are fairly self-sterile. They hybridize freely with other members of this genus. At one time this tree was widely grown in coppiced woodlands for its wood, but the practise of coppicing has fallen into virtual disuse. Trees regrow very quickly after being cut down, producing utilizable timber every 10 years. This species is not often seen in Cornwall though it grows very well there. Trees take 30 years from seed to come into bearing. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.
Problems, pests & diseases
Associations & Interactions
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Polycultures & Guilds
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This table shows all the data stored for this plant.
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