©BSNHS 2014

A non indigenous tree now naturalised in southern Britain, was probably introduced by the Romans, thriving on a range of soils but best on well drained slightly acidic soil.

Large deciduous tree 30m in height. Bark in young trees is smooth with a grey sheen, but in  mature trees bark is deeply fissured spiralling up the trunk. Leaves are glossy 20-30cm in length, lanceolate with serrated margins.

The familiar long white male catkins appear June/July while at the same time the female flowers in groups of 2-3 are found at the base of the male flowers. Once fertilised these give rise to the familiar glossy brown nuts encased in spine covering, which ripen in October November time.

Although Sweet chestnut is grown for its timber, which is very similar to oak, it is our most important commercial coppice crop.

Like most non-indigenous trees that have not evolved here Sweet chestnut supports very little insect life, with only about a dozen phytophagous insects recorded.  One micro moth Cydia splendana of which its lava feeds in the nuts.

No gall mites were recorded on Sweet chestnut until 2015, when the Oriental chestnut gall wasp Dryocosmus kuriphilus was first recorded in this country.

August Tree of the Month - Sweet Chestnut Castanea sativa (Fagaceae)

Small Leafed Lime Tree Tilia cordata - Tiliaceae