Herb: Sweet Chetsnut
Latin name: Castanea sativa
Synonyms: Castanea vesca, Castanea vulgaris, Fagus castanea
Family: Fagaceae (Beech Family)
Medicinal use of Sweet Chetsnut:Although more commonly thought of as a food crop, sweet chestnut leaves and bark are a good source of tannins and these have an astringent action useful in the treatment of bleeding, diarrhoea etc. The leaves and bark are anti-inflammatory, astringent, expectorant and tonic. They are harvested in June or July and can be used fresh or dried. An infusion has been used in the treatment of fevers and ague, but are mainly employed for their efficacy in treating convulsive coughs such as whooping cough and in other irritable conditions of the respiratory system. The leaves can also be used in the treatment of rheumatism, to ease lower back pains and to relieve stiff muscles and joints. A decoction is a useful gargle for treating sore throats. The plant is used in Bach flower remedies - the keywords for prescribing it are "Extreme mental anguish", Hopelessness" and "Despair".
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Woods in mountains.
Edible parts of Sweet Chetsnut:Seed - raw or cooked. A somewhat astringent taste raw, it improves considerably when cooked and is delicious baked with a floury texture and a flavour rather like sweet potatoes. The seed is rich in carbohydrates, it can be dried, then ground and used as a flour in breads, puddings, as a thickener in soups etc. The roasted seed can be used as a coffee substitute. A sugar can be extracted from the seed.
Other uses of the herb:Tannin is obtained from the bark. The wood, leaves and seed husks also contain tannin. The husks contain 10 - 13% tannin. On a 10% moisture basis, the bark contains 6.8% tannin and the wood 13.4%. The meal of the seed has been used as a source of starch and also for whitening linen cloth. A hair shampoo is made from the leaves and the skins of the fruits. It imparts a golden gleam to the hair. Wood - hard, strong, light. The young growing wood is very durable, though older wood becomes brittle and liable to crack. It is used for carpentry, turnery, props, basketry, fence posts etc. A very good fuel.
Propagation of Sweet Chetsnut: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 in mountains.
Known hazards of Castanea sativa:None known
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.