chapter  1
4 Pages

History

Growing and Using the Chestnut in the World from Past to Present
WithGiancarlo Bounous, Gabriele Beccaro

In Asia, mainly in China, the Chinese chestnuts are found in wild and cultivated stands and the history of Chinese chestnut cultivation could be traced back to many centuries B.C. Japan, the Korean peninsula and the temperate regions of East Asia are the natural range of the Japanese chestnut. Asia Minor, and more specifically the Transcaucasia region, is considered to be the centre for the domestication, cultivation, and dissemination of C. sativa. From the Middle Ages the chestnut replaced the oak in the European forests, and chestnuts become a staple food. The chestnut timber industry vanished about a century ago as the canker blight and ink disease decimated the American chestnut. Before being destroyed it furnished small nuts, fuel wood, building timber, and wood products. The world’s leading chestnut producer is China, followed by Korea, Turkey, Italy, Japan, Spain, Portugal, France, and Greece, in decreasing order, but many other countries produce valuable nuts and timber.