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Castanea henryi - (Skan.)Rehder.&E.H.Wilson.

Author(Skan.)Rehder.&E.H.Wilson. Botanical references11, 200, 266
FamilyFagaceae GenusCastanea
SynonymsCastanopsis henryi - Skan.
Known HazardsNone known
RangeE. Asia - W. and C. China.
HabitatMixed mesophytic forests on mountain slopes at elevations of 100 - 1800 metres[266].
Edibility Ratingapple iconapple iconapple icon 3 (1-5) Medicinal Rating 0 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics

icon of man icon of evergreen tree A decidious Tree growing to 25m.
It is hardy to zone 6. It is in flower in July, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Insects.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soil. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.


Woodland Garden; Canopy;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seed.

Seed - raw or cooked[105, 177]. Small[61, 63]. Said to be of excellent eating quality[183]. Eaten raw, there is a distinct astringency, especially if the fleshy inner skin beneath the outer shell of the seed is not removed[K]. When cooked, however, and especially when baked, the seed becomes much sweeter and has a floury texture[K]. It then makes an excellent food and can be used as a staple food in much the same way as potatoes or cereals[K].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

Other Uses

Tannin; Wood.

The bark, leaves, wood and seed husks all contain tannin. Wood - valued locally for construction[61].

Cultivation details

Prefers a good well-drained slightly acid loam but succeeds in dry soils[1, 11, 200]. Once established, it is very drought tolerant[1, 11, 200]. Very tolerant of highly acid, infertile dry sands[200]. Averse to calcareous soils but succeeds on harder limestones[11, 200]. Although it is very winter-hardy, this species only really thrives in areas with hot summers[200]. It is very slow growing and small in Britain[11, 200]. A shrub at Kew was 3 metres tall in 1990[K]. Resists endothia blight[105]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. An excellent soil-enriching understorey in pine forests[200]. Flowers are produced on wood of the current year's growth[229]. Plants are fairly self-sterile[200]. They hybridize freely with other members of this genus[200].


Seed - where possible sow the seed as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame or in a seed bed outdoors[78]. 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[K].



[K] Ken Fern
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1] F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press 1951
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).

[11] Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray 1981
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.

[61] Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable 1974 ISBN 0094579202
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.

[63] Howes. F. N. Nuts. Faber 1948
Rather old but still a masterpiece. Has sections on tropical and temperate plants with edible nuts plus a section on nut plants in Britain. Very readable.

[78] Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co 1948
A bit dated but a good book on propagation techniques with specific details for a wide range of plants.

[105] Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing 1976
The most comprehensive guide to edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.

[177] Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books 1984 ISBN 3874292169
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of latin names with a brief list of edible parts.

[183] Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications 1990 ISBN 0-9628087-0-9
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.

[200] Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press 1992 ISBN 0-333-47494-5
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

[229] Elias. T. The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. 1980 ISBN 0442238622
A very good concise guide. Gives habitats, good descriptions, maps showing distribution and a few of the uses. It also includes the many shrubs that occasionally reach tree proportions.

[266] Flora of China 1994
On-line version of the Flora - an excellent resource giving basic info on habitat and some uses.



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