A problem with chestnuts

Chestnuts have been an important part of the lives of the people of Italy for centuries. In times of famine they saved people from starvation. The trees provide wood for building, furniture and to burn for fuel.

There are approximately 850,000 hectares of chestnut forests in Italy, and around 39,500 hectares in the Lucca province alone.

So it is alarming that there is a disease attacking chestnut trees. Chestnut blight, or Endothia parasitica first appeared in 1938, but it the last few years the problem seems to be growing.

The disease appears a a lump at the base of the leaves.

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The leaves die and the tree is then unable to produce chestnuts.

Let’s hope scientists can come up with a cure for this destructive disease. Apart from anything else, chestnut trees are beautiful. It is a delight to drive through chestnut forests in the mountains around Bagni di Lucca.

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11 thoughts on “A problem with chestnuts

  1. I think those lumps in the photos are galls caused by Dryocosmus kuriphilus, a gall-forming insect introduced from China into Japan, South Korea and the USA and first noted in Europe in 2002 in the province of Cuneo in Italy. The formation of the gall at the base of the leaf deprives the leaves of their nutrients causing the leaves to die, reducing the tree’s ability to photosynthesise adequate nutrients and hence reducing the yield of chestnuts. If you read Italian, you can find out what biologists are doing to try to curb the damage caused by these insects here: http://www.centrocastanicoltura.unito.it/attivita/insetti.html. Let’s hope one or more of their strategies works.

  2. to my interested friends…the chestnut tree which is beautiful and provides a strong wood with equally strong root system which thrives at approximately 900 metres helping the earth and rocks to be stable from losing the soil and rocks….in winter the chestnut has become a wonderful protein cooked in large pans with holes on the bottom cooking these delightful nut like fruit over an open flame…Christmas is a joy with them.//I pray that la castagna can be saved through science//javing lived not far from bagni di lucca at the foot of the monti pisani these great magnificent trees are irreplaceable////..to kyle….it’s about time to go to the big hills at buti and montieri…and start roasting them…

  3. Let’s hope that scientists will be able to control and contain this plague, as chestnuts are very important for many people, not only in our Tuscany area, but also in quite a few European regions. And I love marrons glacés, chestnut purée,jam, pasta, “castagnaccio”, necci and my favourite one: ice cream!

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