While you’re roasting your chestnuts on the open fire this holiday read these fun facts about these nuts.

  1. The name chestnut comes from the English term “chesten nut”
  2. There are 9 different species native to regions in the Northern Hemisphere.
  3. The 4 main types are known as European, Chinese, Japanese, and American.
  4. Depending on the species, chestnut trees can live 200 to 800 years.
  5. Chestnut flowers are do not self-pollinate and require two trees.
  6. Two of three flowers form together to for a four-lobed prickly calybium, which merge together to make the husk covering the fruits.
  7. A sharp cupule, called a burr, contains the fruit. Burrs contain 1 to 7 nuts depending on the varieties.
  8. Chestnuts have a pointed end with a tassel at its tip. The bottom has a pale brown attachment scar, called a hilum.
  9. The nut could also be flattened on one or two sides, depending on the variety.
  10. They also have two skins. The brown outer hull, called pericarpus, is hard and shiny. The under layer, called pellicle, is thinner.
  11. All species, except American chestnut, are abundant in the wild. Between 3 and 4 billion American chestnut trees were destroyed by a fungal disease in the first half of the 20th century.
  12. Japanese chestnuts were cultivated before rice and Chinese chestnuts have been cultivated for 2,000 to 6,000 years.
  13. The oldest and largest chestnut tree in the world is a Sweet Chestnut tree, call the Hundred-Horse Chestnut. It’s located in Sant’Alfio in Sicily. It is believed to be 2,000 to 4,000 years old.
  14. Chestnuts are eaten raw, baked, boiled or roasted and can be dried and milled into flour.
  15. Chestnut flour can be used in breads, cakes, pies, pancakes, pastas, polenta, and as thickener for stews, soups and sauces.
  16. Horse chestnuts and water chestnuts are not related to these nuts.
  17. Chestnut trees being to produce in 3 to 5 years. And by 10 years can produce as much as 10 to 20 pounds per tree. At maturity, about 15 to 20 years, a tree can produce 50 to 100 pounds per tree.
  18. While the United States is one of the few countries in the world that can grow chestnuts, they have about 3,700 acres of the trees on about 919 farms.
  19. Michigan, Florida, California, Oregon, and Virginia are the top 5 producing states. 
  20. The average American consumes less than 1 ounce per year. To compare, Europe consumes 1 pound per capita and 2 pounds in Asia.

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Sources:
Just Fun Facts
Agricultural Marketing Resource Center
Chestnut Hill Tree Farm

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