Family Foraging: Sweet Chestnut

Learn to harvest sweet chestnuts with this guide, and identify the difference between chestnuts and their poisonous lookalike, conkers (horse chestnuts).


Sweet Chestnut

Castanea Sativa

A very large woodland tree, reaching heights of 115 ft (35 m), they can live for up to 700 years! They have long serrated leaves and the dark brown pointed nuts are in light green spiky cases.


The leaves are long, measuring 4–10 in  (10–25 cm) and have fifteen pairs of parallel veins. They also have very prominent serrated edges, like the teeth of a saw.


Chestnuts have catkins, long yellow clusters of flowers which can look like fireworks bursting out of the tree. 


Chestnuts look a little like a conker (horse chestnut), but as conkers are poisonous it is worth knowing the difference. Here is a checklist to help; if you consider every point on the list rather than just one or two, that way you will be certain you have a chestnut and not a conker. 



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