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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Castanea alnifolia - Bush Chinkapin*
Castanea crenata - Japanese Chestnut
Castanea dentata - American Chestnut
Castanea henryi - Henry's Chestnut
Castanea mollissima - Chinese Chestnut
Castanea ozarkensis - Ozark Chinkapin
Castanea pumila - Allegheny Chinkapin
Castanea sativa - Sweet Chestnut
Castanea seguinii - Seguin's Chestnut
* treated as a synonym of C. pumila by many authors
Chestnut (Castanea), including chinkapin, is a genus of eight or nine species of deciduous trees and shrubs in the beech family Fagaceae, native to warm temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The name also refers to the edible nuts they produce.
Most of the species are large trees growing to 20-40 m tall, but some species (the chinkapins) are smaller, often shrubby. The leaves are simple, ovate or lanceolate, 10-30 cm long and 4-10 cm broad, with sharply pointed, widely-spaced teeth, with shallow rounded sinuses between. The flowers are catkins, produced in mid summer; they have a heavy, unpleasant odour. The fruit is a spiny cupule 5-11 cm diameter, containing one to seven nuts.
The name Castanea comes from the old Latin name for the Sweet Chestnut.
Chestnuts should not be confused with either Horse-chestnuts (family Sapindaceae; also called "buckeye"), or water-chestnuts (family Cyperaceae); both are so named for producing superficially similar nuts.
Chestnut trees thrive on neutral and acidic soils, such as soils derived from granite, sandstone, or schist, and do not grow well on alkaline soils such as chalk.
The nuts are an important food for jays, pigeons, and squirrels. Several insects, notably the weevil Curculio elephas (chestnut weevil), also feed on the seeds.
The leaves are used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species; see list of Lepidoptera that feed on chestnut trees.