Chestnut – New World Encyclopedia

Sweet Chestnut Castanea sativa

Candy Chestnut Castanea sativa

Scientific classification

Castanea alnifolia – Bush Chinkapin
Castanea crenata – Japanese Chestnut
Castanea dentata – American Chestnut
Castanea henryi – Henry’s Chestnut
Castanea mollissima – Chinese language Chestnut
Castanea ozarkensis – Ozark Chinkapin
Castanea pumila – Allegheny Chinkapin
Castanea sativa – Candy Chestnut
Castanea seguinii – Seguin’s Chestnut
* handled as a synonym of C. pumila by many authors

Chestnut is the frequent identify for any of the deciduous timber and shrubs comprising the genus Castanea (Cas-tá-ne-a) within the beech household Fagaceae, native to temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere and characterised by alternate, easy, toothed leaves and fruit within the type of cup-like nuts enclosed in a prickly outer shell (burr). Eight or 9 species have been recognized as a part of Castanea, together with these chestnuts generally referred to as chinkapins, which usually are smaller, typically extra shrubby, than the opposite species of enormous timber. The identify chestnut additionally refers back to the edible nut of those timber and to the wooden, which has business worth.

There are also different crops in different genera and households that make the most of the frequent identify chestnut, together with the horse chestnut (Aesculus in Sapindaceae household; additionally referred to as “buckeye”), the grass-like Chinese language water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis in Cyperaceae household), and the water chestnut (Trapa natans within the Trapaceae household).

Chestnuts present an essential meals useful resource for wildlife. (Paillet 2005) calls chestnuts “an almost splendid meals for mast-consuming wildlife [wildlife that eat fruits and nuts]” given they aren’t protected by a predator-resistant husk or shell or by chemical compounds. (See ecology.) Reflecting the concord in nature, wildlife can also be essential to the chestnut’s survival as a species, serving as seed-dispersal brokers.

People additionally devour chestnuts, as mirrored within the vacation music whose opening verse reads “Chestnuts roasting on an open hearth.” Whereas chestnuts stay an essential meals crop in elements of Europe and Asia, their use in North America was tremendously lowered within the early twentieth century when the chestnut blight killed huge numbers of the American Chestnut. Chestnuts additionally function an essential decorative tree and timber useful resource.


Chestnuts inside their spiky capsule

The beech household, Fagaceae, to which chestnut belong, contains about 900 species of each evergreen and deciduous timber and shrubs. Members of this household are characterised by alternate easy leaves with pinnate venation, unisexual flowers within the type of catkins, and fruit within the type of cup-like (cupule) nuts. Fagaceous leaves are sometimes lobed and each petioles and stipules are typically current. Fruits lack endosperm and lie in a scaly or spiny husk (outer shell) that will or could not enclose the whole nut, which can consist of 1 to seven seeds. The very best-known group of this household is the oaks, genus Quercus, the fruit of which is a nut (normally containing one seed) referred to as an acorn. The husk of the acorn in most oaks solely varieties a cup wherein the nut sits.

The chestnuts, genus Castanea, are principally species with giant timber rising to 20-40 meters tall, however some species (the chinkapins) are smaller, typically shrubby. The leaves are easy, ovate or lanceolate, 10-30 centimeters lengthy and 4-10 centimeters broad, with sharply pointed, widely-spaced enamel, separated by shallow rounded sinuses.

Castanea sativa male catkins (pale buff) and feminine catkins (inexperienced, spiny, partly hidden by leaves)

The flowers are catkins, produced in mid summer season; they’ve a heavy, disagreeable odor.

The chestnut fruit is a spiny cupule 5-11 centimeters in diameter, containing one to seven thin-shelled nuts (Rushforth 1999; Bean 1976; FOC; FNA). These are true nuts in a botanical sense, not only a culinary sense. That’s, the chestnut is a tough, indehiscent (not opening to discharge seeds), easy, dry fruit, whereby the plant’s ovary wall turns into very arduous (stony or woody) at maturity, and the place the seed stays unattached or unfused with the ovary wall. The seed itself is protected by a skinny shell. The spiny overlaying that protects the nut whereas immature, referred to as a burr, opens vast when the seed is ripe (Paillet 2005).

The identify Castanea comes from the outdated Latin identify for the Candy Chestnut (Huxley 1992).


Chestnuts can be found on the ground around trees

Chestnut timber thrive on impartial and acidic soils, reminiscent of soils derived from granite, sandstone, or schist, and don’t develop effectively on alkaline soils reminiscent of chalk (Huxley 1992).

The nuts are an essential meals for such birds as jays and pigeons, and such mammals as squirrels, turkeys, bear, and deer. A number of bugs, notably the weevil Curculio elephas (chestnut weevil), additionally feed on the seeds (Huxley 1992).

Paillet (2005) notes that chestnut is exclusive amongst North American nut-producing timber in that there’s little deterrence for seed predators, with the seed protected solely by a skinny shell and missing tannins (as in acorns) or different chemical compounds to cut back palatability. The younger chestnuts are protected by a burr that’s formidable, however it opens vast when the seed is ripe (Paillet 2005).

Chestnuts, given their tendency to fall close to the mum or dad tree as a consequence of being heavy, depend on dispersal brokers to supply efficient dispersal of seeds. As with different interactions between seed predators and timber, the predators are rewarded for his or her position in planting nuts, whereas at the least some nuts survive to germinate and develop (Paillet 2005).

The leaves are used as a meals plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species.

Chestnuts grown for business nut manufacturing are grown in orchards with vast spacing between the timber to encourage low, broad crowns with most publicity to sunshine to extend nut manufacturing. On alkaline soils, chestnuts could be grown by grafting them onto oak rootstocks. Most wooden manufacturing is completed by coppice techniques, reduce on a 12-year-rotation to supply small timber which doesn’t cut up as badly as giant logs (Edlin 1970).

Chestnuts for planting require storage in moist sand and chilling over the winter earlier than sowing; drying kills the seed and prevents germination.


A fungal illness, chestnut blight Cryphonectria parasitica, impacts chestnuts. The japanese Asian species have co-evolved with this illness and are reasonably to very immune to it, whereas the European and North American species, not having been uncovered to it previously, have little or no resistance (Huxley 1992).

Early within the twentieth century, chestnut blight was launched to North America by the importation of Asian chestnut crops (AP 2007). In 1904, this fungus was detected in New York Metropolis and by 1950, 90 % of the American chestnut timber, 3.5 billion timber, had died (AP 2007). What had been a very powerful tree all through the east coast was lowered to insignificance. The American chinkapins are additionally very vulnerable to chestnut blight. The European and west Asian Candy Chestnut is vulnerable, however much less so than the American (Huxley 1992).

The resistant species, significantly Japanese Chestnut and Chinese language Chestnut but additionally Seguin’s Chestnut and Henry’s Chestnut, have been utilized in breeding applications in the US to create hybrids with the American Chestnut which are additionally illness resistant (AP 2007).

Makes use of


A kestaneci or chestnut vendor in Istanbul

Roasted chestnuts in Melbourne

Roasted California-grown chestnuts The nuts are scored earlier than roasting to permit venting and facilitate peeling

The nuts are an essential meals crop in southern Europe, and southwestern and japanese Asia, and have been an essential meals useful resource in japanese North America earlier than the arrival of chestnut blight. Chestnuts even have been a standard staple meals: In southern Europe within the Center Ages, entire forest-dwelling communities that had scarce entry to wheat flour relied on chestnuts as their important supply of carbohydrates.

Chestnuts are largely starch and water, with little or no fats, and are a superb supply of dietary fiber and copper and a supply of nutritional vitamins B1 and B6 (Bender and Bender 2005).

The nuts are peeled of their arduous outer shells and bitter inside pores and skin after which eaten candied, boiled, preserved, puréed, or roasted (Herbst 2001). Candied chestnuts are sometimes bought beneath the French identify marrons glacés or Turkish identify kestane şekeri. One other essential use of chestnuts is to be floor into flour, which might then be used to organize bread, truffles, and pasta.

One other little identified use is to eat chestnuts uncooked by simply peeling them (virtually unknown in North-America however customary at the least in Northwest Europe). When chestnuts are recent from the sphere/retailer, peeling is just not straightforward. Nonetheless, after leaving them out at room temperature for 24-48 hours, the patron can simply peel away the skin shell utilizing a easy small, pointed kitchen knife. The remaining course of requires merely eradicating the thinner inside pores and skin, washing the uncovered fruit to take away any remaining contamination, after which consuming. Chestnuts’ style could differ barely from one to the following however is considerably candy and definitely distinctive. Chestnuts begin to degrade if they’re ignored for greater than 5 to seven days.

Chestnut-based recipes and preparations are making a comeback in Italian delicacies, as a part of the development towards rediscovery of conventional dishes.

Different merchandise

Chestnut wooden is just like oak wooden in being ornamental and really sturdy. As a result of illness, American chestnut wooden has virtually disappeared from the market. Though portions of chestnut can nonetheless be obtained as reclaimed lumber, it’s troublesome to acquire giant timber from the candy chestnut as a result of excessive diploma of splitting and warping when it dries (Edlin 1970). The wooden of the candy chestnut is mostly utilized in small gadgets the place sturdiness is essential, reminiscent of fencing and wood outside cladding (‘shingles’) for buildings. In Italy, it’s also used to make barrels used for growing older balsamic vinegar.

The bark was additionally a helpful supply of pure tannins, used for tanning leather-based earlier than the introduction of artificial tannins (Edlin 1970).



  • Bean, W. J. 1976. Timber and Shrubs Hardy within the British Isles, eighth ed., vol. 1. John Murray. ISBN 0719517907.
  • Bender, D. A., and A. E. Bender. 2005. A Dictionary of Meals and Diet. New York: Oxford College Press. ISBN 0198609612.
  • Edlin, H. L. 1970. Timber, Woods and Man. New Naturalist. ISBN 002132303.
  • Flora of China. n.d. Castanea. Flora of China 4: 315. Retrieved April 13, 2008.
  • Flora of North America. n.d. Castanea. Flora of North America 3. Retrieved April 13, 2008.
  • Herbst, S. T. 2001. The New Meals Lover’s Companion: Complete Definitions of Almost 6,000 Meals, Drink, and Culinary Phrases. Barron’s Cooking Information. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Academic Sequence. ISBN 0764112589.
  • Huxley, A. (ed.). 1992. The New Royal Horticultural Society Dictionary of Gardening. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0333770188.
  • Paillet, F. L. 2005. Chestnut and wildlife. In Ok. C. Steiner and J. E. Carlson, eds., Proceedings of Convention on Restoration of American Chestnut to Forest Lands. Retrieved April 13, 2008.


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