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Chestnut - The Sweet Chestnut, The American Chestnut - Other chestnuts

species castanea genus seeds

Chestnuts are species of trees in the genus Castanea, family Fagaceae. They are species of temperate hardwood (angiosperm-dominated) forests found in the Northern Hemisphere and are indigenous to eastern North America and Eurasia. Species in the genus Castanea can grow to be 100 ft (30 m) tall. They have simple leaves with a broadly toothed margin and sweet-smelling, yellowish, insect-pollinated, early-summer flowers aggregated on a long flowering axis. Fertilized flowers develop into prickly, tough-coated fruit, containing two to three large, rich-brown colored, edible seeds (or nuts). True chestnut seeds should not be confused with horse chestnuts, or buckeyes, genus Aescellus, which have somewhat poisonous seeds.

The wood of all chestnut species can be manufactured into an open-grained, decay-resistant, lumber. This wood has a rich brown color and can be worked easily to manufacture fine furniture and musical instruments. Chestnut is also used for its durability in construction timber, railway ties, pit props, and shingles.


The Japanese chestnut (Castanea crenata) and Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima) are species of eastern Asia. They are resistant to chestnut blight and have been introduced to North America as shade trees.

Bill Freedman

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