Native to southern Europe but introduced in Roman times and now widespread on lighter soils in southern Britain where it has been an important coppice species.
Studies of provenance variation in Britain are very recent so material should be sourced from good British stands or from selected stands in western Europe.
The species is suited to warmer, more continental parts of Britain (i.e. <1500 mm rainfall per year) on medium to poor soils of fresh or slightly dry moisture status. It is not suited to alkaline or waterlogged soils. Acid sandy loams are an ideal soil type for this species which although cold hardy, is not tolerant of exposure.
Pests and pathogens
Sweet chestnut is susceptible to several root attacking species of Phytophthora, mainly P. cinnamomii and P. cambivora. The introduced chestnut blight (Chryphonectria parasitica) which causes bark cankers and girdles branches and stems, is a serious disease in parts of Europe.
Oriental chestnut gall wasp (OCGW) has recently been discovered in southern England and the value of sweet chestnut as a timber and coppice species could be impacted if the pest were to become established. For more information visit the Forestry Commission gall wasp page
This species is likely to benefit from climate warming, with more abundant seeding and natural regeneration allowing an expansion of its range onto suitable sites throughout lowland Britain.
Sweet chestnut is categorised as a Principal tree species. These are species which are currently widely used for forestry and will continue to be a dominant unless affected by a new pest or disease or adversely affected by climate change.