Varieties of Chestnut Trees - Aesculus & Castanea Species
Horse chestnuts and sweet chestnuts are completely unrelated. It is their fruit that gives them their name - from the ancient Greek. Nevertheless, both are magnificent trees, ideal as specimens, shade trees and for planting along drives and avenues.
All chestnuts are large trees most topping 20 metres with some varieties reaching 40 metres - a little larger than a fully grown beech.
Chestnuts in Summary
- Uses: Large, parkland and avenue trees
- Good Points: Spring flowering and Autumn nuts
- Uses: Parkland, avenues, shade trees for stock
- Growth: Up to 70cms p.a.. Tap-rooted and so needs deep soil
Choosing, Planting and Caring for Chestnut Trees
Choosing the right Chestnut
The different varieties of Aesculus (horse chestnut) come in a range of sizes, flowering colours and fruitfulness
The good, old-fashioned Wild Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) is the largest in our range and can reach 40m although it is unlikely that its planter will live to see the day, some 200 years later... its candelabra-like flowers are a creamy-white with a golden yellow spot that darkens to red as the bloom ages
Red Horse Chestnut trees (Aesculus x carnea 'Briottii') sometimes touch 20 metres and have vibrant red and apricot flowers. The "fruit" are similar to those of the common horse chestnut but smaller, less spiny and less reliably produced, which leads us to...
White Horse Chestnut trees (Aesculus hippocastanum 'Baumannii'). Often a little larger than Aesculus carnea Briotti, this is the "sterile" horse chestnut. It carries its white flowers more profusely than the common horse chestnut, and because there are no conkers, it is perhaps a better choice for planting along drives and avenues. it would also be the preferred chestnut to use as a shade tree in pastures and paddocks.
Sweet chestnuts (are not presently available for sale as their import and movement within the UK are both forbidden). Assuming we are ever allowed to sell them again, they are more upright than your average conker tree grow to similar (large) sizes and produce yellowy/green catkins followed by edible nuts. They really do not grow well on chalk.
Planting Chestnut Trees
Horse Chestnuts grow on any well-drained ground. They need some depth of soil however as a mature chestnut is a magnificent specimen with correspondingly deep roots. So don't plant them on shallow chalk for example.
The delivery and planting season for bareroot Chestnut trees is October - March. Because these are tap-rooted trees, we would advise against buying container-grown specimens as establishment can be problematical.
The best planting instructions we have are contained in our video on how to plant a tree. Follow these and you will not go far wrong. Use a stout stake as it will be needed for 2-3 years after planting and we strongly recommend Rootgrow.
Chestnuts come into leaf early and proportionately they probably carry more leaf area than any other major tree in the UK. That means water. Until its root system has established, your chestnut will need watering thoroughly whenever there is a risk the planting area may be drying out. Apart from that, cut out dead and diseased wood when necessary and otherwise let the tree get on with growing.
You can buy horse chestnuts and (when imports are permitted again) sweet chestnut trees from our nursery. So for now, unfortunately, the range is limited to conkers (varieties of Aesculus)...