Sweet Chestnut - Image of Sweet Chestnut pods or spiky cases. The pod of the edible sweet chestnut has a sort of "porcupine" look to it with thin prickly spikes that point out in all directions and form a sort of thicket where you cannot see anything but the spikes. These are green while the chestnuts are forming and then turn brown when the chestnuts are mature. Handling these pods without gloves can be quite tricky.
The Sweet Chestnut Tree is native to Southern Europe and Asia Minor and widely cultivated throughout the temperate world. A mature Sweet Chestnut tree grows to 35m (about 115ft) and can live for up to 700 years. The bark is grey/purple and smooth, which develops vertical fissures with age. The twigs are purple/brown and buds are plum, red/brown and oval in shape. Their leaves are oblong and toothed with a pointed tip and feature around 20 pairs of prominent parallel veins. The flowers are long, yellow catkins of mostly male flowers, with female flowers at the base. Sweet chestnut is monoecious, meaning both male and female flowers are found on the same tree. The Fruits after pollination by insects, female flowers develop into shiny red/brown fruits wrapped in a green, spiky case. The trees begin to bear fruit when they are about 25 years old.