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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Genus: Castanea (chestnuts)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid I > Order: Fagales > Family: Fagaceae

Eight species, native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Three species are cultivated in southern Africa including the the Sweet chestnut Castanea sativa.

Species cultivated in southern Africa

List from Glen (2002).

Castanea crenata (Japanese chestnut)

Native to China and Japan.


Castanea dentata (American chestnut)

Native to eastern USA.


Castanea sativa (Sweet chestnut)

The indigenous distribution of Sweet chestnut extends from the Mediterranean to the Caucasus. It was introduced to Great Britain by the Romans. Chestnut cultivation has involved selecting plants with large, tasty nuts and growing them clonally. The most common use of chestnuts is to roast them whole and then peel and eat them while they are still warm. Before roasting, it is important to cut an "x" into the flat side of the nuts to stop them from exploding.




  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated Plants of Southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.