The sweet chestnut tree (Castanea sativa Mill.) is a medium-large deciduous tree that may reach 30-35 m. The tree is long-living and can live up to 1 000 years, when cultivated. It can also reach a significant circumference (up to 12 m at breast height). The bark is brown-greyish, leaves are oblong-lanceolate (8-25 cm long, 5-9 cm broad) with a dentate-crenate margin and a brighter green upper leaf surface. This species tree is monoecious and flowers develop in late June to July and may be pollinated by wind (more usual in case of dry weather during flowering) or insects (dominating in wet weather conditions).
The broad diffusion and active management by man resulted in the establishment of the species at the limits of its potential ecological range, which makes difficult to trace its original natural area. The present distribution ranges from North-Western Africa (e.g. Morocco) to North-Western Europe (southern England, Belgium) and from south-western Asia (e.g. Turkey) to Eastern Europe (e.g. Romania), the Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia) and the Caspian Sea. In Europe the main chestnut forests are concentrated in a few countries such as Italy, France and the Iberian Peninsula.