Herb: Chinese Chestnut
Latin name: Castanea mollissima
Synonyms: Castanea bungeana, Castanea duclouxii, Castanea hupehensis
Family: Fagaceae (Beech Family)
Medicinal use of Chinese Chestnut:The burrs (seed cases?) are rich in tannin and are astringent and stomachic. A decoction is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, uncontrollable nose bleed, dysentery, regurgitation and profound thirst. The flowers are used in the treatment of scrofula. The stem bark is used to treat poisoned wounds whilst the stem sap is used to treat lacquer poisoning.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Woods and forests to 2500 metres. Mountain slopes from near sea level to 2,800 metres.
Edible parts of Chinese Chestnut:Seed - raw or cooked. 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 skin (or pellicle) of the seed is easily peeled. The seed is low in fats and oils but high in carbohydrates. A nutritional analysis is available.
Other uses of the herb:The bark, leaves, wood and seed husks all contain tannin. Wood - hard, strong, light. Used for fence posts etc. Coppiced for fuel.
Propagation of Chinese Chestnut: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.
Cultivation of the herb:Woods and forests to 2500 metres. Mountain slopes from near sea level to 2,800 metres.
Known hazards of Castanea mollissima:None known
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.