Herb: Bush Chinkapin

Latin name: Castanea alnifolia

Family: Fagaceae (Beech Family)

Edible parts of Bush Chinkapin:

Seed - raw or cooked. Of excellent quality. The seed is small but it is sweet and larger than C. pumila though produced less abundantly. Eaten raw, there is a distinct astringency, especially if the fleshy inner skin beneath the outer shell of the seed is not removed. When cooked, however, and especially when baked, the seed becomes much sweeter and has a floury texture. It then makes an excellent food and can be used as a staple food in much the same way as potatoes or cereals. The burs have less prickles, making it easier to harvest the seed.

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)


Habitat of the herb:

Dry sandy soils in open woodlands or in thickets, also in rich upland deciduous woodlands.

Other uses of Bush Chinkapin:

The bark, leaves, wood and seed husks all contain tannin.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - where possible sow the seed as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame or in a seed bed outdoors. The seed must be protected from mice and squirrels. The seed has a short viability and must not be allowed to become dry. It can be stored in a cool place, such as the salad compartment of a fridge, for a few months if it is kept moist, but check regularly for signs of germination. The seed should germinate in late winter or early spring. If sown in an outdoor seedbed, the plants can be left in situ for 1 - 2 years before planting them out in their permanent positions. If grown in pots, the plants can be put out into their permanent positions in the summer or autumn, making sure to give them some protection from the cold in their first winter. Division of suckers in winter. They can be planted straight out into their permanent positions.

Cultivation of Bush Chinkapin:

Dry sandy soils in open woodlands or in thickets, also in rich upland deciduous woodlands.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Castanea alnifolia:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.