Chestnut is a common name for several species of trees in the genus Castanea, in the Beech family Fagaceae. Chestnuts are native to warm temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The name also refers to the edible nuts produced by these trees. Most are large trees to 20-40 m tall, but some species are smaller, often shrubby. All are flowering broadleafs with catkins.
The leaves of the American and European chestnut 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 (Bean 1970). The fruit is a spiny cupule 5-11 cm diameter, containing one to seven nuts. Chestnut trees thrive on acidic soils, such as soils derived from granite or schist, and do not grow well on alkaline soils such as limestone. When wanting to grow chestnut trees on such soils, the practice was to graft them onto oak rootstocks.