Sweet Chestnut

Castanea sativa

  1. Wildlife
  2. Trees and shrubs
  3. Sweet Chestnut

About

Sweet Chestnut was introduced into the UK by the Romans for its nuts - often ground into flour - and widely planted for its timber; but it now behaves like a native tree, particularly in the south-east of England where it spreads through many woodlands by seed. It can grow old and massive, the trunk twisting and developing fissures, and the branches collapsing but taking root and sending up new shoots. One of the largest Sweet Chestnut trees is in Gloucestershire - its trunk measures nearly 30 metres across.

How to identify

Sweet Chestnut can be recognised by its long leaves with large teeth along the edges, as well as its soft-spined fruit cases that contain two or three chestnuts.

Where to find it

Widespread in south-east England, sometimes planted elsewhere.

Habitats

When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Although Sweet Chestnut is not a native tree, it has become naturalised in the UK and, as such, provides an important link in the food chain for many animals, as well as a place for shelter and nesting. The Wildlife Trusts recognise the importance of healthy habitats to support all kinds of species throughout the food chain, so look after many nature reserves for the benefit of wildlife. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from coppicing to craft-making, stockwatching to surveying.

Species information

Common name
Sweet Chestnut
Latin name
Castanea sativa
Category
Trees and shrubs
Statistics
Height: up to 30m
Conservation status
Introduced species.