Castanea sativa Mill. - Sweet chestnut.

Taxonomic position.

Family Fagaceae Dumort. genus Castanea Mill.

Morphology and biology.

Deciduous tree 35-40 m tall. In mountains at the upper limit of its distribution takes the form of a shrub with scimitar-shaped trunks. Young branches reddish or olivaceous-brown, with numerous glandular hairs. Leaves 8-20 cm long, alternate, simple, broadly lanceolate or elliptic, with large acute teeth at margins. Petioles 1.5-3 cm long, with glandulous pubescence. Stipules oblong, caducous. Monoecious plant. There are catkins of two types: unisexual (male) and bisexual. The male catkins many-flowered, yellowish-white, 10-35 cm long. Male flowers with 6-incised campanulate perianth, aggregated in 5-7 in compact dichasia located in axils of bracts. Bisexual catkins most often have 1-2 female dichasia at the base and then numerous male dichasia, sometimes between female and male dichasia there are several groups of underdeveloped bisexual flowers. Female dichasium is enclosed in a common cupule and consists of 3 pistillate flowers with 6-8-dentate perianth. Cupule 5-6 cm diameter, spiky with long, acute spines, when mature dehiscing into 4 valves. Fruits are nuts, gathered in 1-3 inside the common cupule. Pericarp hard, thin, dry, of distinctive chestnut color.
Entomo- and anemophilous. Ornitho- and zoochore. Propagates by seeds.
Flowers in May - June, mature fruits in October - November.


Western Europe (south), Caucasus, Asia Minor.


Mesophyte. Photophilous. Chestnut forests occupy mainly slopes of northern and northeastern expositions with wet rich brown loamy soils in the lower and middle montane zones. In the Caucasus, the upper limit of distribution is at the altitude of 1500-1800 m s.m.

Use and economic value.

Food, technical, ornamental. Fruits are very nutritious, eaten fresh, boiled and roasted, used to prepare candies. Provides firm beautiful wood used for building and carpentry. Almost all organs contain large amount of tannins.


Grossheim AA. 1945. Flora of Caucasus. 2nd ed. V.3. P.51-52. (In Russian).
Kordon RYa., Smolyaninova LA., Kharyuzova ED. 1936. Nuciferous plants. In: Cultivated flora of the USSR. Moscow; Leningrad. P.209-298. (In Russian).
Sokolov SI., Svjaseva OA., Kubli VA. 1977. Ranges of trees and shrubs of the USSR. V.1. Leningrad: Nauka. P.112-114. (In Russian).

© I.G.Chukhina

© Photo by D.O.Eliseev

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