Castanea sativa - Hedging

Common Name: 
Sweet Chestnut
Field and Country Hedging

2023/24 season now closed


Not technically a good choice for hedging, as they don’t produce dense growth and resent being continually clipped, but included here as they make a superb windbreak tree or can be coppiced for timber and firewood. Sweet chestnuts (Castanea sativa)  are not technically natives, but it is thought they were possibly introduced by the Romans who ground the chestnuts to make flour. 

Sweet chestnuts make fine medium-sized trees, producing long straight trunks and a canopy covered with the familiar long pointed glossy green leaves, with serrated edges and prominent veins. The flowers are not as showy as the horse chestnut (not actually a close relation, despite the name), but are long, very pale yellow catkins with male flowers at the top and a female flower at the base. If pollinated the female flower will develop into the familiar red-brown fruit, encased in a bright green spiky coat - although trees need to be at least 15 years old before they start to bear fruit, so be patient!

The wood is excellent - similar to oak but easier to work - and is particularly resistant to rotting, so is used for hurdles and fencing. For wood production, coppice trees by cutting some or all of the wood back to just above soil level once it has reached the desired thickness.

Sweet chestnut prefers a sunny, mild site - it is much more common in the south of the UK - and doesn't take too well to very limey soils, so isn’t as robust and easy to grow to a lot of the other species listed in this section. But if you have the right conditions, and are prepared to wait to see the fruits of your labours, there is no finer sight than a stand of Sweet Chestnuts. And if you don't plant them, who will?


A great tree for wildlife - the catkins provide nectar and pollen for bees, squirrels will feast on the nuts and the leaves are an important food source for some moth species.