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Castanea sativa (Familie Buchengewächse, Fagaceae)

Distribution: originally from the Mediterranean to southwest Asia; cultivated north of the Alps in climatically mild regions since Roman times and now firmly naturalized and well integrated.

Appearance: Stately tree up to 35 m tall; leaves oblong or lanceolate, 10-30 cm long, with finely pointed toothed margins. Flowers appear in May or early June; the fragrant, white male flowers in long, candle-shaped inflorescences are especially conspicuous and handsome. The chestnuts, botanically nut fruits, are surrounded by a spiny fruit cup until ripe.

Because of the valuable, nutritious fruit, but also because of its hard, durable wood, the Romans brought the sweet chestnut to us from the south across the Alps. In many warmer areas of southwestern Germany, it became an integral part of many forests, often in the Palatinate Forest, for example. In view of climate change, the species, which is well adapted to warmth and drought, will gain in importance both in forestry and for the design of urban green spaces. The sweet chestnut should not be confused with the horse chestnut, the classic tree of our beer gardens, to which it is not related.

blühende Edelkastanie

Blossoming sweet chestnut (Photo: G. Aas)

Kastanien in stacheliger Fruchthülle

Chestnuts in their prickly pericarp shortly before ripening (Photo: G. Aas)

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