Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa)

Sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) is a large, deciduous, broadleaf tree native to southern Europe. It is also known as "Marron", which is French for "chestnut".

  • Sweet Chestnut  -  Castanea Sativa  -  Blossom And Leaves
  • Sweet Chestnut  -  Castanea Sativa  -  Seeds In Spiny Casing
  • Sweet Chestnut  -  Castanea Sativa  -  Winter Stems And Bud

Useful info about Sweet Chestnut trees

Latin NameCastanea sativa
TypeDeciduous (loses its leaves in winter)
HeightCan grow up to 20+ metres (65+ feet)
SpreadThe branches can spread out to 20+ metres (65+ feet)
Soil Types PreferredChalk, Clay, Limestone, Loam, Sand
Locations SuitableFarmland, Gardens, Parks
FlowersYellow flowers in summer
FruitNuts in autumn

Similar Species


Sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) is a large, deciduous, broadleaf tree native to southern Europe, western Asia and north Africa.

The tree is commonly called the "chestnut", or "sweet chestnut" to distinguish it from the horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) to which it is only distantly related. It is also known as "Marron", which is French for "chestnut".

Sweet Chestnut is believed to have been introduced to the UK by the Romans and it has since naturalised here.

It thrives in warm conditions and is therefore usually found in the south of England. It is occasionally found in woodland but is more often planted in parklands and estates.

Sweet chestnut is a tree that can grow over 30m (100ft) tall and it can have a very large girth. The bark often has a net-shaped pattern, with deep furrows or fissures running spirally in both directions up the trunk.

The leaves are large, oblong and pointed with coarse teeth along the edges.

The flowers of both sexes are borne in 10–20 cm (4–8 in) long, upright catkins - the male flowers in the upper part and female flowers in the lower part. In the northern hemisphere, they appear in late June to July. By autumn, the female flowers develop into spiny, protective cases, called cupules.

The prickly outer layer is designed to deter squirrels and other seed predators from getting to the large, brown nuts inside that are shed in October.


The nuts are an important commercial crop in southern Europe. They are used by confectioners, eaten roasted and ground to make flour. There's even a Corsican beer made with chestnuts. However nut quality and quantity are variable in the English climate.

The wood of the tree is durable and is used to make furniture, barrels, fencing and roof beams.

As it has a tendency to split and warp it is not usually used in large pieces where structural strength is important. It is often used in a coppice rotation to produce durable fencing posts.


Any uses for trees or tree extracts, whether edible or medicinal, have not been tried or tested by EFORESTS.

Please take caution and seek proper advice before attempting any recipes or medicinal extracts from any of the trees listed on our site.

Culture and Symbolism

Sweet Chestnut trees are believed to represent fertility, abundance and longevity.

The ancient Greeks dedicated the sweet chestnut to Zeus and its name "castanea" comes from Castonis, in Greece where the tree was grown for its nuts.

Click here to dedicate a tree to be planted in a woodland in England, Scotland or Wales

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