While out walking this Autumn there have been some beautiful chestnuts, big, chunky ones worth picking found liberally scattered under sweet chestnut trees.
There are a lot of sweet chestnuts trees to see while out walking in the woods around Craven Arms. They are beautiful, elegant trees.
These deciduous trees can reach thirty five metres in height and are long lived, seven hundred years being an average age. They start producing fruits from twenty five years of age.
Sweet chestnuts have grey / purple bark which is smooth. As it ages it developed deep, vertical fissures. The twigs are purple/ brown, with buds that are a plum/red/brown and oval in shape.
The leaves of Sweet chestnuts are a glossy green, oblong shaped with serrated edges. Their leaves can be as long as twenty eight cms and nine cms in width, ending in a point.
Their flowers are creamy yellow long catkins which are upright. Sweet Chestnut trees have both male and female flowers, with the female flowers at the base of the catkins. These are the flowers that develop into shiny red/brown fruits, wrapped in a spiky green casing.
Sweet chestnuts are native to Southern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa. They are thought to have been introduced to Britain by the Romans.
The Worlds oldest Sweet Chestnut grows on Mount Etna, has a trunk circumference of one hundred and ninety feet and is thought to be between two thousand and four thousand years old.
Sweet Chestnuts are found throughout the UK in woods and corpses. It prefers a mild climate and shade. It is sensitive to frosts in late Spring and needs moist environment for good growth.
Sweet chestnuts are a valuable source for wildlife. It provides nectar and pollen for insects and bees. Micromoths feed on the leaves and squirrels love the nuts.
The timber is used in carpentry, joinery and furniture. It is similar to oak but easier to work and light weight. It has straight grain which twists and spirals as it get older. It is Coppiced to produce poles for building.
The nuts are edible when cooked, the Romans ground it into a flour. Sweet chestnuts are rich in vitamin c and b, magnesium and iron.
Chestnut blight has recently arrived in the UK, it causes a canker which leads to die back and then the death of the tree.