Belfast Botanic Gardens Tree Archive
This is one of a series of short articles about trees in the Belfast Botanic Gardens compiled by the Friends group. The tree tag number relates to the small aluminium discs, usually fixed on the tree trunk, 2 to 3m above ground level.
54 deg 34.924N
5 deg 56.043W
The sweet chestnut, so called to distinguish it from the inedible
horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum
is a native of Southern Europe. Its fruit is enclosed in a spiny cupule and
has a tough leathery outer shell. The nut is a valuable food source. As well
as being roasted over coals on city streets throughout Europe in winter, it
is the basis of marrons glace and can be ground to a flour. The timber
is also very valuable. Large timbers, with a strength rivalling oak, are used
in many historic buildings in France (both the wood and the tree are called
Chataignier). Chestnut trees are also traditionally coppiced and allowed
to grow to make poles of about 5cm diameter. These are used in hop farms,
for charcoal production and split to make chestnut paling fencing. There used
to be extensive coppiced chestnut woods in Kent to supply the hop farms there.
Sweet chestnut trees are easily distinguished in summer by the
very long, toothed, leaves. In winter the furrowed bark which almost always
spirals round the stem helps to distinguish them. In Northern Ireland the
Castania will very seldom produce edible-sized nuts. The large nuts
sold in shops are from varieties specially bred for nut production.
Photos taken in Belfast Botanic Gardens in 2014. Copyright: Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens.
Click here to view the rest of the tree archive