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Castanea sativa – Wikipedia

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**Botanical Description and Taxonomy**:
– Castanea sativa can reach a height of 20–35 meters with a trunk often 2m in diameter.
– The bark has a net-shaped pattern with deep furrows running spirally.
– Leaves are oblong-lanceolate, boldly toothed, 16–28 cm long, and 5–9 cm broad.
– Flowers of both sexes are borne in upright catkins, with female flowers developing into spiny cupules.
– The nut has two skins: an external shiny brown part and an edible creamy-white part.
– Common names include Spanish chestnut or marron.
– Selected varieties like Marigoule, Marisol, and Maraval have different growth characteristics.
– Some cultivars yield earlier in life with different ripening times.

**Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology**:
– Native to Southern Europe and Asia Minor, found across the Mediterranean region.
– Grown on 2,250,000 hectares of forest in Europe in 2004.
– Requires a mild climate, adequate moisture, and is sensitive to frosts.
– Tolerates moderate shade well under forest conditions.
– Leaves provide food for animals like Lepidoptera and North American rose chafer.
– Major fungal pathogens include chestnut blight and ink disease.
– Some cultivars are resistant to ink disease.
– Gall wasp and Phytophthora cambivora are serious pests.

**Cultivation and Post-Harvest Treatment**:
– Three cultivation systems include coppicing, Selve, and high forest.
– Optimal growth on limestone-free, deeply weathered soil with pH between 4.5 and 6.
– Seeds must be stratified before planting for germination.
– Water curing and hot water treatment are common post-harvest methods.
– Stored in a controlled environment with high carbon dioxide concentrations after treatment.

**Uses and Nutritional Composition**:
– Cultivated for edible seeds and wood.
– Used for flour, boiling, roasting, drying, and sweets.
– Sweet chestnuts have low fat content dominated by unsaturated fatty acids.
– Good source of starch, copper, phosphorus, manganese, and potassium.
– High moisture content ranging from 41% to 59% and sugar content from 14% to 20% dry weight.

**History, Cultivation Evolution, and Decline**:
Pollen data suggests spreading of C. sativa around 2100–2050 B.C. in Anatolia, Greece, and Bulgaria.
Chestnut use increased in the Middle Ages but declined in the 20th century due to various factors.
– Recent revival in cultivation due to high-value products and changing urban needs.
– Spread of chestnut blight and ink disease contributed to the decline.
– Contradictory evidence exists on Roman spreading of C. sativa and its cultivation in Roman Britain.

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