The sweet chestnut has been used as a source of food since ancient times. Although our tree is still tiny, it can eventually reach a height of 20–35 m (66–115 ft) with a trunk often 2 m (7 ft) in diameter. It was probably brought to Britain by the Romans and it used to be cultivated in monastery gardens by monks.
This tree responds very well to coppicing, which is still practised in Britain, and produces a good crop of tannin-rich wood every 12 to 30 years, depending on intended use and local growth rate. The tannin renders the young growing wood durable and resistant to outdoor use, thus suitable for posts, fencing or stakes. The wood is of light colour, hard and strong. It is used to make furniture, barrels (sometimes used to age balsamic vinegar), and roof beams.
Latin name: Castanea sativa
Uses: roasted, puree
Flavour: sweet and floury, a bit like sweet potato
Fruit colour: brown
Flowering time: Mid May
Picking time: October- December
Eating/storing time: several months
Tree vigour: 20-35 metres
Year planted: 2006