Introduced by the romans, this large, long lived deciduous tree is native to Southern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa. The trees flowers provide an important nectar source as well as providing habitat for a large number of micro moths. Its bark develops deep fissures that spiral upwards around the tree. The name Castanea is thought to originate from the ancient Greek town of Castonis, in Thessaly, where the tree was grown for its nuts.
Culture for Sweet Chestnut
Prefers a well drained loamy soil. Acid to neutral pH (pH 5 to 7). Sensitive to waterlogging.
Concerns about Sweet Chestnut
Young trees can suffer from squirrel damage. Generally disease free but occasionally suffers from fungal leaf spots and Phytophthora canker. Chestnut blight and oriental chestnut gall wasps are major concerns for current UK biosecurity. Chestnut blight is currently limited to Southern England and causes cracks and cankers, stem girdling, and dieback; sometimes orange fruiting bodies may emerge from infected bark. Oriental chestnut gall wasp is currently limited to London and Southeast England. It causes galls on buds leaves and leaf stalks of Sweet Chestnut trees. It is the only gall forming organism known on Sweet Chestnuts.
Management Practices for Sweet Chestnut
Trees should be surveyed frequently to assess for galls and blight infections. Sweet Chestnut is a common coppice tree and can be cut for poles or biomass.