These are the chestnuts that you can eat, once you’ve extracted them from their formidable spiky cases and cooked them to help remove the tough skin. People have been doing so for hundreds of years, sometimes cultivating them for that purpose, and apparently Roman soldiers were given chestnut porridge before going into battle. The strong timber is useful, too. The trees are known for their longevity: one on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily is thought to be as old as 4000 years, and its trunk (now split) had a girth of 190 feet! Like the seeds, the toothed leaves are very distinctive. The one I photographed is in the corner of “the Conker Park”, and looking a lot healthier than the poor Horse Chestnuts there.
By Neil Griffin Photo by Pixabay