To pick up and eat,
Or keep until Winter,
When, hot, they're a treat!
Like hedgehogs, their shells
Are prickly outside;
But silky within,
Where the little nuts hide,
Till the shell is split open,
And, shiny and fat,
The Chestnut appears;
Say's the Fairy: "How's that?"
Sweet Chestnut (Castanea vesca)
They make an excellent stuffing for turkey, also roast pheasant, which is one of the few forms in which they are eaten, apart from simply being roasted.
The meal of the Chestnut has also been used for whitening linen cloth and for making starch. The best kind, the Marones, contain 15 per cent sugar, and by expression yield a thick syrup, from which in turn a very usable sugar can be derived. This variety in France forms the favourite sweetmeat: Marons glacÚs.
Chestnut makes excellent timber. Though in old age the wood is brittle and liable to crack, when in a growing stage, having very little sap wood, it contains more timber of a durable quality than an oak of the same dimensions, and young chestnuts have proved more durable than oak for woodwork that has to be partly in the ground, such as stakes and fences.
The usual method of propagation is by well-selected nuts, but if the tree is grown with the object of fruit-bearing, grafting is the best method. This is done in foreign countries and the method has been adopted in Devonshire. The grafted trees - called marronniers by the French - are, however, unfit for timber. The most suitable soil for Chestnut trees is a sandy loam, with a dry bottom, but they will grow in any soil, provided the subsoil be dry.
Medicinally---The leaves, picked in June and July when they are in best condition and dried. They have also been used in the fresh state.
Chestnut leaves have no odor, but an astringent taste.
Medicinal Action and Uses---In some places Chestnut leaves are used as a popular remedy in fever and ague, for their tonic and astringent properties.
Their reputation rests, however, upon their efficacy in paroxysmal and convulsive coughs, such as whooping-cough, and in other irritable and excitable conditions of the respiratory organs. The infusion of 1 OZ. of the dried leaves in a pint of boiling water is administered in tablespoonful to wineglassful doses, three or four times daily.