Chestnut

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Chestnut

The sweet chestnut

The American chestnut

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 feet (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 2-3 large, rich-brown colored, edible seeds (or nuts). True chestnut seeds should not be confused with horse chestnuts, or buck-eyes, genus Aescellus, which have somewhat poisonous seeds.

The wood of all chestnut species can be manufactured into an open-grained decay-resistant lumber. It 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 sweet chestnut

The sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa ) is a cultivated species originally native to southern Europe and Asia Minor. There are extensive plantations in parts of southern France, Italy, and some other countries. This tree grows 30-100 feet tall (9-30 m), with wide, spreading branches. The nuts of the sweet chestnut are highly nutritious, containing about 80% starch and 4% oil. Chestnuts are eaten roasted or boiled, or sometimes ground into flour and used to make cakes. In 1999, the global crop of sweet chestnut was harvested from about 630, 000 acres (255, 000 ha) and had a production of 573, 000 tons (521, 000 tonnes).

The American chestnut

The American chestnut tree, Castanea dentata, is native to the rich hardwood forests of the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada. It was once a dominant species in forests of this region, occurring over an area of approximately 9 million acres (3.6 million ha), and particularly abundant in southern Appalachia. The American chestnut was an economically important tree. At one time, chestnuts contributed about one-tenth of the sawlog production in the United States. Its nuts were gathered as food for humans and livestock and were a staple for wild species such as turkeys, passenger pigeons, and forest rodents.

The American chestnut was nearly wiped out by the introduction of chestnut blight fungus (Endothia parasitica ). This fungus is a wind- and animal-dispersed pathogen that was inadvertently introduced with horticultural planting stock of an Asian species of chestnut (Castanea crenata ; see below) imported to New York. The first symptoms of chestnut blight in the American chestnut were seen in 1902, and within 25 years it had been virtually eliminated as a canopy species in the deciduous forest of eastern North America, being replaced by other shade-tolerant species of trees. Many individuals of the American chestnut survived the blight, as their root system was not killed. They regenerated by growing stump-sprouts, but once these trees grew tall, they were again attacked by the fungus and knocked back. Efforts have been made to breed a light-resistant variety by crossing the American chestnut with Asian species. This has been somewhat successful and the hybrid chestnuts are now available as shade trees. Unfortunately, this is not likely to help the American chestnut, a native tree species, become prominent in the forests of eastern North America once again. It is possible, however, that the introduced blight pathogen will evolve to be less deadly to the American chestnut.

Other chestnuts

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

Chestnut

views updated

Chestnut

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 sweet chestnut

The sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) is a cultivated species originally native to southern Europe and Asia Minor. There are extensive plantations in parts of southern France, Italy, and some other countries. This tree grows 30-100 ft tall (9-30 m), with wide, spreading branches. The nuts of the sweet chestnut are highly nutritious, containing about 80% starch and 4% oil. Chestnuts are eaten roasted or boiled, or sometimes ground into a flour and used to make cakes. In 1999, the global crop of sweet chestnut was harvested from about 630,000 acres (255,000 ha) and had a production of 573,000 tons (521,000 tonnes).


The American chestnut

The American chestnut tree, Castanea dentata, is native to the rich hardwood forests of the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada. It was once a dominant species in forests of this region, occurring over an area of approximately 9 million acres (3.6 million ha), and particularly abundant in southern Appalachia. The American chestnut was an economically important tree. At one time, chestnuts contributed about one-tenth of the sawlog production in the United States. Its nuts were gathered as food for humans, were eaten by livestock , and were a staple for wild species such as turkeys , passenger pigeons, and forest rodents .

The American chestnut was nearly wiped out by the introduction of chestnut blight fungus (Endothia parasitica). This fungus is a wind- and animal-dispersed pathogen that was inadvertently introduced with horticultural planting stock of an Asian species of chestnut (Castanea crenata) imported to New York. The first symptoms of chestnut blight in the American chestnut were seen in 1902, and within 25 years it had been virtually eliminated as a canopy species in the deciduous forest of eastern North America, being replaced by other shade-tolerant species of trees. Many individuals of the American chestnut survived the blight, as their root system was not killed. They regenerated by growing stump-sprouts, but once these trees grew tall, they were again attacked by the fungus and knocked back. Efforts have been made to breed a light-resistant variety by crossing the American chestnut with Asian species. This has been somewhat successful and the hybrid chestnuts are now available as shade trees. Unfortunately, this is not likely to help the American chestnut, a native tree species, become prominent in the forests of eastern North America once again. It is possible, however, that the introduced blight pathogen will evolve to be less deadly to the American chestnut.

Other chestnuts

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

chestnut

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chest·nut / ˈches(t)ˌnət/ • n. 1. (also sweet chestnut) a glossy brown nut that may be roasted and eaten. 2. (also chestnut tree, sweet chestnut, or Spanish chestnut) the large European tree (Castanea sativa) of the beech family that produces the edible chestnut, which develops within a bristly case, with serrated leaves and heavy timber. ∎  (also American chestnut) a related tree (C. dentata), which succumbed to a fungal bark disease in the early 1900s. Once prolific in the eastern US, very few large specimens survived. ∎  (also Chinese chestnut) a related tree (C. mollissima) native to China and Korea, cultivated elsewhere for its edible nut. ∎ short for horse chestnut. ∎  used in names of trees and plants that are related to the sweet chestnut or that produce similar nuts, e.g., water chestnut. 3. a deep reddish-brown color. ∎  a horse of a reddish-brown color, with a brown mane and tail. 4. a small horny patch on the inside of each of a horse's legs. 5. colloq. a stale joke or anecdote.

chestnut

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chestnut
1. Spanish or sweet chestnut from trees of Castanea spp. Unlike other common nuts it contains very little fat, being largely starch and water. Seven nuts (75 g) provide 5.3 g of dietary fibre and are a good source of copper; a source of vitamins B1 and B6; contain 2 g of fat, of which 18% is saturated; supply 135 kcal (570 kJ).

2. Water chestnut, seeds of Trapa natans, also called caltrops or sinharanut; eaten raw or roasted.

3. Chinese water chestnut, also called matai or waternut; tuber of the sedge, Eleocharis tuberosa or dulcis; white flesh in a black, horned shell.

chestnut

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chestnut Deciduous tree native to temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere. It has lance-shaped leaves and furrowed bark. Male flowers hang in long catkins, females are solitary or clustered at the base of catkins. The prickly husked fruits open to reveal two or three edible nuts. Family Fagaceae; genus Castanea; there are four species. See also horse chestnut

chestnut

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chestnut
1. (Castanea) See FAGACEAE.

2. (horse-chestnut) See HIPPOCASTANACEAE.

chestnut

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chestnut XVI. The first element is ME. chesteine, chasteine (XIV) — OF. chastaine (mod. châtaigne) :- L. castanea — Gr. kastanéā.