Edible Chestnuts vs. Horse Chestnuts

This is a post about which chestnuts you can eat and which ones you cannot eat.

To tell the difference between an edible chestnut (from Castanea Sativa) and a non-edible chestnut (Horse Chestnut or Buckeye) you need to take a close look at the pod that the chestnuts grow in. Once the chestnut (seeds) are out of their pods they can look very similar to each other.
The pod of the edible sweet chestnut has a sort of "porcupine" look to it with thin prickly spikes that point out in all directions and form a sort of thicket where you cannot see anything but the spikes. These are green while the chestnuts are forming and then turn brown when the chestnuts are mature.  Handling these pods without gloves can be quite tricky.

The chestnuts from a Horse Chestnut or Buckeye on the other hand have short bumpy spikes on a smooth ball shaped fruit where you can see the surface between the spikes. As you can see in these images there are a lot fewer spikes which are also shorter and less pointy than those of the edible chestnuts.

The leaves are also very different. Those of the Horse Chestnut and Buckey are palmate with five leaflets like the one in the image below.

118 comments:

  1. I have the not edible chestnut on my backyard with red flowers. But I have never seen the edible one. What a nice furry shell. Thanks for sharing. Anna :)

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    1. It is not a furry shell one can not hold in hand when fully ripe and dry, their thorns are hard & sharp can easily penetrate into the skin, God has protected this fruit from the animals even animals can not touch because it must have some medicine properties which is not discovered yet

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    2. Squirrels love them. Two of my dogs eat them as they fall of the tree. I eat them- we are all happy animals. Maybe a good medicinal property.

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    3. When the edible chestnut is ripe, the shell opens and the nuts drop like rain. A nut is a seed of the tree, and the goal is to make a baby tree. The nuts even in their spiny hard-as-hell to pick up before they "pop" roll wildly on the slightest incline. Animals - including the human one haha - are wise to this and are ready to gather the freed nuts without messing with the spines.

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    4. I just read that the "non"-edible type, the horse chestnut, is POISON to dogs, so be very careful NOT to let your dogs eat them if you have the "Horse" chestnut variety and not the true American, European, or Asian chestnut.

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    5. as a young kid i didn't notice the bull was out and in my effort to get over the fence from said charging bull. i fell over landing butt 1st on an intact chestnut. the next 2hours were spent across a utility table as my great grandmother armed with rubbing alc and teasers de-spiked my rear end.

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    6. I have the American edible tree, two of them and each year they yield fruit.. they are in my front yard and you are right they can be a pain in the rear! but my mom loves them.

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    7. So I'm 99% certain the chestnuts I found are horse chestnuts, not edible according this this web page. But my sister ate them a few days ago, 3 or 4 of them, and she's fine. So are they worthy of the poison symbol stamp on the picture or just not edible in the sense they don't taste as good as other chestnuts?

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    8. There is a tree (horse chestnut) in the neighbors yard and the squirrels are always eating them and it doesn't seem to hurt them. It is my understanding horse chestnuts are bitter.

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    9. \my friend told me of a neighbour that ate some and began to go into respiratory distress. \he had to be hospitalized, so \I would not try it.

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    10. Non edible means just that!!!!

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  2. Do you know if there are wildlife that have adapted to eating horse chestnuts. Logic would tell me there are.

    Nice photos and descriptions for correct identification. Thanks

    Bill www.wildramblings.com

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    1. Well I see hundreds of opened shells and it appears the nuts were eaten by squirrels

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    2. When I lived in Alabama our 90 acres of mountainous land had a vast understory of horse chestnuts. They are poisonous to humans, but the whitetail deer ate them like they were candy, and came toni harm. A biologist said that they were adapted to eating the horse chestnuts (not related to actual American chestnut species)

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  3. From what I have read the "Conkers" (ie Horse Chestnuts) are eaten by deer and squirrels.

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  4. Hi!

    I also have noticed that squirrels will eat on the early buds of the Horse Chestnuts from a tree in my yard that was somehow planted 10 years ago by a squirrel.
    Since then I have tried to duplicate planting the chestnut literally by the hundreds over large areas and not one survived.
    I presently have three sapplings about four feet high at the base of the tree which I have to transplant.
    Does anyone have any information on transplanting the sapplings or planting the nuts for future growth?
    Thanks
    Don

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  5. Get a pot, put some soil in pot above half way, stick conker in the pot, cover with a finger or thumbs depth of soil above conker. Then leave this to over winter in the pot outside, without a saucer underneath. Once spring arrives the seed should germinate, hopfully anyway. I have tried this as a child and it mostly works. I would make up a few pots just to be sure. and maybe put the pots in diffent locations see which one germinate the best.. Good luck :)

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  6. I sure am glad I checked this out! I moved to this house last year and discovered several chestnuts on the ground, under a tree in the front yard. I was thrilled because I LOVE roasted Chestnuts. Now, I have found from your descriptions that the species I have is the NON-EDIBLE kind! Darn it! They're Horse Chestnuts!

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  7. Hi my husband is a conker Freak!! he has been taking us out almost every day off he gets, to find a GOOD conker tree Known as (Horse Chestnut). He's trying to get some good big ones so he can teach his kids to play the conker game as he did as a child in england. Does anyone know where i can Find a really Big Conker tree in Oregon. and ends our madness search.

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    1. if you live in or near Portland they are all over the Richmond district (39th and division) there is at big one of se grant st.

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    2. you can have the giant one in my yard in silverton! I have abucket full of the stupid things my toddlers pick up. like Easter Eggs so papa can mow!

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  8. We have found some in Oregon but there too small we are looking for really big ones...in a park hopefully i hate the looks we get from home owners when my husband is out there picking up there conker nuts lol its a bit embarrassing, But i love him and im Dessprate to find him the perfect tree. PLEASE PLEASE HELP!!!!!!

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    1. This was posted a long time ago, but we have a couple of huge horse chestnut trees here in Salem OR. Let me know if you are still interested, our front lawn is literally full of conkers in the fall :)

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    2. Lots of horse chestnut trees off of Alberta and Williams in NE Pdx.

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    3. There are also some big, old Edible Sweet Chestnut trees on Stark St. near the intersection with 52nd across the street from the Portland Nursery. You can even see them in full flower on Google Street View.

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  9. Thanks for the information! You saved me from sending my parents some horse chestnuts to roast!

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  10. And here I thought chestnuts were chestnuts and could be eaten. My son-in-law told me they were horse chestnuts and don't eat them. I am glad I showed them to him first because we have a huge tree in our yard and they are BIG.

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  11. But why can't you eat horse chestnuts? Do they taste bad? Are they poisonous? What can I do with the bucket of them I've collected? Can they be dried and used for anything?

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    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse-chestnut

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  12. I live in N Portland, and there are both kinds everywhere. Just dropping on the streets and being run over. (It's early Oct) Glad to now have this info. Do I have to roast the chestnuts before I eat them? I'm recently unemployed and so glad to find a free source of protein. Nuts always cost so much, no matter what kind.

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    1. Roasted Chestnuts are an old European staple... You can also boil them, and make a puree from the shelled flesh (Marron Glace).

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  13. I´m note sure if Sweet Chestnuts can be eaten raw or not but they are very tasty roasted. Just remember to make a small cut in the outer skin before roasting because if you don´t the Chestnut can explode in the oven. By oven I mean heat oven using the broiler function with the Chestnuts about 2-3 inches from the heat. You can also cook them in a BBQ over hot coals.

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    1. Yes they can be eaten raw Dan, as a kid in England I always found when the nut wasn't quite full brown, i.e. still showing some white they tasted sweeter, Haven't had them for years...

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    2. Yes! By all means, do make that slice... Otherwise you will have exploding chestnuts in the oven!

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  14. I have collected a whole bag of horse chestnuts (thinking that they were sweet chestnuts) from Harvard Yard and cooked them at home. I ate one. Actually, just a tiny bite because it was extremely bitter.

    Yes, they are poisonous because I threw up.

    Only then I found your blog......too late!

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  15. The local Indians had a process for making acorns edible, by leaching out the poisonous chemical in the acorn with several months of in-ground water circulation through their baskets of acorns.
    The horse chestnut is not a native tree, and I don't know if the indigenous European tribes had a method of processing the nut to make it edible...
    At any rate, as a Portland native myself, it always surprised me that people would waste space planting horse chestnuts when they could have planted edible American chestnut trees instead, and enjoyed a wonderful harvest for very little effort!

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  16. I picked up some chestnuts from Leif Erickson Dr (in Forest Park in N. Portland) near 1.25mi marker. There are lots of them on the ground. But I believe these are the bitter ones. I hesitate to try them

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  17. Thanks for this site. I've just been out forraging in our local wood in cornwall and found lots of chestnuts. Unsure if they were edible or not I thought I'd better look it up. Yummy!! Mine are edible. Will be roasting them later!!

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  18. Is there any edible spieces that grow in Great Britain? Info would settle an arguement.

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  19. Simon...The "Edible Sweet Chestnut" is grown in Great Britain as well as the "Common Horse Chestnut". Check out this Wikipedia article for confirmation of this (1st paragraph under "Uses")

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_Chestnut

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  20. Love the fact the pictures were so good...made telling the difference so much easier than just a discription! Unfortunately i have the Horse Chestnut trees in my yard...the deer love them though!

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  21. "CHESTNUTS ROASTING ON AN OPEN FIRE" IS A GREAT PHRASE IN A POPULAR CHRISTMAS SONG, BUT IF YOU WANT REALLY GOOD TASTING CHESTNUTS, DO NOT ROAST THEM, you will always get a burnt taste and often wind up eating some of the inner skin which is "fuzzy" and bitter tasting and you will join the ranks of many who say, "I tasted chestnuts, but did not really like them". IF YOU TRULY WANT TO ENJOY CHESTNUTS, (and they are very enjoyable) BOIL THEM; peel them, then serve them reheated in your micro-wave (or fry pan) with a little butter and salt on them. Cut a slit in the shells before boiling them for 12 to 15 minutes. Put only about 3 handfuls of nuts on to boil at a time. Shell them while they are still very hot and remove that inner skin as well. This is no job for sissies. Your hands will be in pain from the heat, but the effort will be well worth it. (It helps a lot if you use a pair of those gloves with rubber coated fingers and palm on the hand in which you hold the chestnut). After they are cooked you still need to keep them very hot to make them easier to peel. Keep them on the stove on the lowest heat. Remove only 3 nuts at a time. If you let them cool too much the shells become hard again and difficult to peel. The best tool is the shortest bladed pearing knife that you can find. I mean only a 2 incher if you can find one. Sometimes the inner skin will be very hard to remove. It is helpful if you return that one to the pot to soak that skin more. Also in many of the nuts there will be "fizures" into which that inner skin grows and is very difficult to remove. It helps a great deal if you just split the nut at that fizure to remove the skin. (A large percentage of your peeled nuts will not be whole). The reason for boiling only 3 handfuls at a time is because over cooking them makes them turn almost to a powder when you try to peel them. DO NOT BE ALARMED IF YOU FIND A WORM. WORMS ARE WHAT POLLINATE THE CHESTNUTS TO MAKE THEM GROW. Usually the worm will be just inside the pointed part of the nut, but sometimes it could be all the way into the center. Just cut it out, don't tell your guests about it, and pretend it never was there. I have developed this method, with revisions, over a 40 plus year period. I am the only one in my family that will go through the effort to cook and peel chestnuts, but my family would go nuts if I did not do it for every Thanksgiving meal. It is best to buy all the chestnuts you want very early in the season, starting with Thanksgiving and not later than the 3rd week in December. The longer in the season you wait the more bad nuts you will get. I always buy lots; cook them; peel them; then freeze them. They will taste just as good when you pull some out of the freezer in the middle of the next summer as they will when eaten freshly cooked. A WORD OF CAUTION, DO NOT TRY TO COOK CHESTNUTS IN THE SHELL IN THE MICRO-WAVE! THEY WILL EXPLODE! TRY THEM! YOU WILL LIKE THEM!

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    1. The worm is a weevil. Chestnut trees are pollinated by pollen from another chestnut tree. The nuts are more of a 'fruit' instead of a nut, as they need to be refrigerated asap after falling off the tree, trying to keep them as close to 32˚F, but not freezing. And yes, they will explode with any cooking method if you do not put a slice cut across their middle before cooking. Also, the edible chestnut has a 'tail' or 'point' on one end, the conker, Ohio buckeye, or horse chestnut (all non-edible) do not have a tail or point (as you rub your finger over the pointed end). That is where the tail was and it either fell off, or was rubbed off, or may not have been formed, but there is always a 'point' you can feel. The 'tail' on the horse chestnut is 'tucked in' the outer brown shell, leaving an imprint you can usually see.

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  22. I really enjoy your blog, dedicated to the trees of the world! Keep this up, for I am adding this in my "must-read" blogs! Also, I would always go for EDIBLE chestnuts! Thanks.

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  23. So I ate a horse chestnut once (raw mind you) on a dare. Within a few minutes, I could hardly breathe--the whole of my mouth/throat itching like no other. I am otherwise not allergic to anything. Would not recommend.

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  24. I have gone through reviews of edible chestnuts and how they tend to evolve into the non-edible type! Pretty awesome!

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  25. I wonder why evolution provided for an edible and non-edible chestnuts?

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  26. I think it all boils down to protection against predation.

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  27. I just ate a roasted horse chestnut... Just one!
    What is going to happen to me?
    Are they poisonous?

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  28. I´ve never eaten one myself but I´ve read that they can cause respiratory problems, sickness, runs, headaches etc.

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  29. very very helpful. we tried roasting a chest nut in the oven and when tasted was very bitter. Later i realized through this information that those chestnuts which we picked up from a park was the horse chestnut kind. it had a horrible bitter taste.yuck. thanks guys.

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  30. Try checking out www.hainaultforest.co.uk - Great description, pictures etc. Shows how to tell difference of leaf shape, bark, catkins, flowers and nut casings. Cannot go wrong with this site. Happy hunting.

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  31. I am interested in growing some sweet chestnuts into trees, and would like to get some sweet chestnut so that I can plant them. Does someone have a sweet chestnut tree they are sure are edible, near them ??
    I would pay to have a couple dozen sweet chestnuts sent by mail, to me. I am in Nova Scotia, Canada, B1P1A1.

    If you can, Please email me, docscience (at) hotmail (dot) com.
    I do not know if they are hardy enough to survive the winters here, but by growing some, I will find out. Thankyou.

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  32. I kinda wonder how Eugenio's doing

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  33. The same like Eugenio here... My uncle took a small part in his mouth. Felt like it's like the edible one... Then he ate that part! And seconds later, his all face changed! Very bitter he says. 5 Mins long he felt the same. Then i did google for it and saw this blog! Guess, "6 MINS later" :)
    He is fine now.. Nothing happend. Still DO NOT eat it!

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  34. Unfortunately, I, also, moved into a home with mature Horse Chestnut trees. Finding the spiny shells interesting, I'm planning on adding them to the Christmas garland I'm making from the pine cones from my evergreens! Maybe I'll spray them gold.

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  35. Eugenio are you still there? I have a Horse Chestnut tree in front of the house. Not knowing, two years ago, I picked like a basket full and gave to my parents (this is after the chipmunks and squirrels got to half of them). My parents brought it home and roasted them. They said it was bitter and threw them all out. Today, my brother and his wife were at our house. I picked up a bunch of these nuts and my sister-in-law started roasting them. I try one and my brother try one. First bite seems a little sweet but it turns bitter real quick. We couldn't eat at all since it was so bitter. So funny since my kids are willing to try anything especially nuts. My three year old daughter sat down on her chair and said, "Daddy, I"m ready to eat it." My sister-in-law went to this site and figure out that these are Horse Chestnuts and not sweet one. I'm glad my daughter only has a small bite and spit it out. Still laughing with my wife about it.

    I'm sure Eugenio is OK!

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  36. Many times I have seen these nut pods looking like green tennis balls in the mouths of squirrels. From your photos, I would guess they were the horse chestnuts. What a disappointment to learn they might be poisonous. But then again, so are beans if they are not cooked properly. I just wonder is there isn't a preparation method that counters the poison and bitter aspect. These horse chestnuts are everywhere in this town.

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  37. I picked up a bunch at the park and roasted them and tasted one and thought they must be too old or something because of the bitterness. I found the toxic info on the net and called poinson control who said for the small amount I ate the most that would happen is vomitting. It takes quite a bit to really hurt yourself eating them and I don't know how anyone could eat them in quantity due to the bitterness!

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  38. Yesterday I enjoyed lying on the grass near a huge chestnut tree overlooking Long Island Sound in Westport, CT. The ground under the chestnut tree was covered with large chestnuts and I picked about three dozen and took them home to roast and eat. Some thought urged me to search the internet and I read that Horse Chestnuts are poisonous but are eaten by squirrels and deer. My home is across from Central Park in New York City where there are plenty of squirrels that are always chasing around for food, so today I took the House Chestnuts to feed the squirrels.
    Five different squirrels picked up the Horse Chestnuts, turned them around smelling them and then threw them away. They preferred acorns which were also on the ground. Maybe Central Park squirrels are smart or full of acorns but House Chestnuts are not on their menu.

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  39. We collected some chestnuts in a park in Ireland & we roasted them...
    Then tasted one and it was awful! Tasted like poison! So I googled it & discovered that they were horse chestnuts. Then rang the poison info line.
    They said my tiny nibble could cause vomitting or diarrhea, but nothing too serious.
    I got a fright though - as I had no idea. I have learnt my lesson for sure!

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  40. Thank you for the great information. I have in the past roasted chestnuts in Belgium. I didn't realize that there was a similar tree that gave off a poisonous nut. First time we roasted this nut here in Germany it turned out to be horse chestnut, so I have been looking since for the correct trees to harvest from.

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  41. My husband and I were so excited to find these chestnuts on a walk one early Oct. afternoon in Milwaukee. We spent two hours picking bags of them, came home washed them and roasted them only to be disappointed by the first bite. BITTER! Thought maybe they needed to ripen...so we checked the internet on how to harvest them...thinking we needed to let them ripen...much to our horror we saw the skull and bones next to the tree and nut on your website. Thank God for the internet and your site. Had great fun and laughs reading that we were not the only ones that did this!

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  42. My husband and I went for a lovely walk yesterday in Co. Meath here in Ireland and there were so many beautiful trees and we were trying to identify them.

    We picked up a couple of wind fallen chestnuts from several huge big Horse Chestnut trees. We came across the ones with the really spiky coats (which we now know from your brilliant site to be the edible ones!!), but we didn't collect any of them and brought home the others, silly us!

    We'll have to go back for another few and try to cook them according to the Anon comment from Nov. 09 :-D

    Thanks for the great site!!

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  43. THANKS..... I was about to bake some of the non edible horse chestnuts... if not for your web site, I may have been in serious troulbe...!!!
    Steve

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  44. This is an excellent site on chestnuts, good and bad.
    I have two trees in my back yard and its Oct 9/10 and the nuts are dropping like crazy, you really need a hard hat when your under the tree.

    They are so messy & a pain to pick up off the ground.
    The Horse chestnuts are poison and you should not attempt to do anything with them.

    When I was a kid we made Christmas Tree decorations, would string them and wrap them around the tree.

    The Squirrels like to eat them and they burry them all over the yard for future food. The ones they don't find next summer start to make another tree. What ever you do don't eat them.

    I did try roasting them over an open fire and they just go to pot, I guess that was a good thing.

    Maybe someone else like Martha Stewart has an Idea for there use, there so nice when just dropped.

    The Trees are the best shade trees in the summer, and thats why I keep them & put up with the mess. Lars

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  45. A thank-you to everybody for sharing the info. I found some of these horse chestnuts in Vancouver, B.C., and thought they were either sweet chectnuts or acorn (silly me!)

    Your site is really wonderful in educating people.

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  46. Great blog! Love trees and all things nuts... Have been out collecting the past bit - white oak, hickory, walnut - this weekend is ginkgo... And had thought about putting out the effort to process some horse chestnuts (the nasty ones)... and kept thinking about the unlikeliness of native people going through all of that bother... That's when I discovered your site among others & happened upon the interesting fact that their IS a SWEET chestnut in North America - both US & Canada - the "American Chestnut" which someone mentioned earlier in this post ... Castanea Dentata - which is unfortunately being decimated by a fungus which arrived in the 1940s first spotted at the Bronx Zoo... Anyways - here's a link to what's happening with this endangered/threatened species in North America - also some cool pictures of this amazing tree! Take a look - maybe you'll join too!http://www.canadianchestnutcouncil.org/

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  47. I live in Alabama and have always liked chestnuts growing up. But they have been hard to find. Recently I found someone with a tree and today picked up 3 bags of them. I have a few questions. I like to eat them without cooking them. I read somewhere that you should'nt eat them raw because of the tannic acid they contain. Is this true? Also, I have shelled two big bowls full tonight. And only a small percentage of them were any good. Alot of them were very hard. I guess they were stale. Is there any way to tell before I go to all that trouble which ones will be good? And do I have to cook or blanche them before freezing. Because I have more than I will ever be able to eat before they ruin. By the way these are the edible ones for sure. I know the difference.

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  48. Wow. We have two big bags of horse chestnuts and I was looking for a roasting recipe. Had chestnuts in Europe all the time. Had no idea there were POISONOUS ones! Thanks for the info! Ack!

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  49. My friend was playing in the park with her 16 week old puppy itpicked up a chestnut started running around with it, later they saw him nibbling at it not knowing there were edible & non edible sorts,chestnuts are chestnuts.the puppy started coughing then retching they stoped at a vet where it died. Do NOT let your kids or pets put them into their mouths.

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  50. I have always loved sweet chestnuts, and can't wait until this time of year when the supermarkets sell them, although when I was a kid in the south of England we used to go collecting them in the woods. It was difficult getting them out of their prickly cases with gloves on in the cold weather. I usually eat them raw and a good tip is to keep them in the fridge, otherwise they dry out and lose their lovely sweet crunchiness. You can also boil them and have them with your brussel sprouts. Roasting them on an open fire is good too.

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  51. Very informative and helpful

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  52. The streets in my Montana town are lined with horse chestnuts. I'm glad I found your site. I couldn't identify them on other sites. I knew they must not be good because nobody makes a fuss about them around here. They all get swept out with the leaves. Thanks:)

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  53. What a surprise! I thought the chestnuts that fell into our yard were inedible; - but they are the edible kind! Very painful to step on the husk though- (ouch!)My grandson still talks about the "horseshoe" that hurt his sister's foot.

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  54. Don't plant one in the front yard unless you like pain. The burrs are sharp as needles and break off in your skin. In Georgia, the pecan weevil grub will ruin the nut unless you pick it up when it hits the ground and toss it in the freezer. Quick action keeps the bug small and minimizes losses. Boil or roast, both are fine.

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  55. Glad I found your site. I live in South Carolina. Some friends and I was walking and we saw all these nuts on the ground. Two people said they though they were chestnuts. We picked up a few and I told them I was going to check them out on the computer. Our find is the sweet chestnuts. THANK YOU FOR THE CLEAR PICS. One lady said she used to boil them in salt water.

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  56. I found many chestnuts on the ground on my way to school today. I missed the delicious roast sweet flavour so much that I spent one hour collecting a full bag. Lucky for me, I read your blog when I am actually intending to search for recipes... Not too late^-^

    Nature's a mysterious creature.

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  57. horse chesnuts are edible if you soak them in milk over night then boil them in fresh water for half a hour to a hour then roast them if u have iforest on android or ios get it and read for ur selfs

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    1. I appreciate your comment from long ago. I was actually searching for information on how to make horse chestnuts edible. I mean if they were NOT edible why are they so plentifully planted. I read somewhere online that you can also soak them for a long time and that removes the bitterness. last years batch were still slightly bitter. I will try your method. Thanks again.

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  58. huh pretty cool thanks for the facts

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  59. My father ate a horse chestnut and he was fine.

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  60. I definitely found horse chestnuts and almost cooked and ate them. Thank you for your help, you probably saved my (and my friends') life!

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  61. My dog always eats our spike balls from our horse chestnut tree. Is this bad? in the article it says that they are not edible. my dog has done this for years. I hope there is not a problem.

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  62. I just spent the day raking up hulls from the six American chestnut trees my dad planted 46 years ago. He's gone now but his trees are thriving! I have seen deer paw at the hulls to get at the nut,squirrels,skunks, and turkeys too! When I think I wanted to cut the trees down when I moved in a few months ago, I feel so guilty. It's a good thing I was to afraid to use the chain saw!

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  63. Haha I just brought back a whole pile from the park with my kids and my wife was JUST about to cook it...she even took a little nibble to see if it tasted like regular chestnuts.

    Anyway thanks for the info and saving us from being poisoned by Horse Chestnuts.

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  64. vikpatnascar@aol.comOctober 8, 2011 at 4:50 PM

    the chestnuts that fall from my tree are opening in pieces . i have found only one that was whole . why is this? can i still eat them?

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  65. Non-edible Horse Chestnuts have a irregular round shape once removed from their seed pod. They are dark brown but have a circular grayish tan spot on the top and they are in no way pointy. Edible chestnuts that are out of their pods have a pointy end and tend to be somewhat flat. I´m not quite sure what you mean by "opening in pieces". Both the edible and non-edible chestnuts can have one or several seeds (chestnuts) in their pods.

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  66. Oh, man, I wish I would have found your article just three days ago. I have a wonderful chestnut tree outside my house, and made a beautiful chestnut pie. The other night, I thought it would be great to bring it to my friends house for a party. We all ate the pie and threw up everywhere. All 15 of us were throwing up so bad. I wish I would have found your article sooner. It was funny though, all of us just throwing up and laughing. It didn't feel good, but it was fun!

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  67. Wow. What a bunch of good information. I just picked a giant sack of "horse chestnuts" that I was about to send to my mother-in-law to make her turkey dressing with. Whoa....I would have felt extremely badly...But now I can put around for the deer...Crazy. I am so glad I read all of this! Thank you.

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  68. We have a tree that drops chestnut like nuts but the pods are completely smooth, is this a type of horse chestnut?

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  69. I believe that there are several types of Buckeye that have smooth seed pods. The California Buckeys is one expample and is a close relative to the Common Horse Chestnut.

    wikipedia page for California Buckeye

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  70. If Horse Chestnut is not edible and causes sickness, runs etc., how is it I can take Horse Chestnut complex to help my varicose veins? Would love to know!

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  71. A friend told me that if you leave a few horse chestnuts around the house they will keep spiders away, so I went out and collected some horse chestnuts (I don't like spiders!!!) and put two in each room, at the end of that day we found 3 large spiders crawling on the walls in different rooms, I remember thinking to myself that it seemed too good to be true, but I left the horse chestnuts in the house and am glad to say that after that first day we haven't seen one single spider and we had the windows open in the spider season when it was warm!!! Is it just coincidence or are the horse chestnuts keeping them away?

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  72. Thanks so much for the info - my husband picked up a bagful of the horse chestnuts along the road somewhere in Clackamas County, thinking we'd roast & eat them. His dad warned us that they may be the wrong kind, so I googled for some info and came across this blog. We did find some of the edible kind at H-Mart in Tigard, so we are looking forward to roasting and eating those!

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  73. great blog ..thank you for it..
    about the spider experience is it true ,because i do have black widows in my car ..second question now that i checked the pictures i do have a chestnut tree in my backyard ... but ....nothing growing out of it , this is the 5th year...help!!

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    1. I'm not an expert in tree farming. I heard it said that some people believe that there are male and female trees, so, maybe there is some truth that to be sucessful one must have two trees which is said to be true with Cherry trees.

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  74. Most nut trees take from 6-10 year to produce nuts. Chestnuts repelling spiders is strictly a myth. Squirrels do not eat horsechest nuts...I've lived across the street from a horsechestnut that is at least 100 years old for 36 years. The squirrels move them around and plant them but have never seen one shell chewed. To germinate them simply place them in a compost pile over winter. They seem to need dormancy period to germinate. They grow very picturesque but they are a messy tree with flowers in spring followed by nuts/shells into summer followed by stiff stems on leaves....you're constantly cleaning up after them. Nuts are also a trip hazard. Neighbor had sever ankle sprains through the years and finally decided to move away from the tree. Sorry to see him go....new neighbor cut the tree down 2 months after moving in :)

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  75. Can you graft an american chestnut tree onto a horse chestnut tree?

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  76. The American chestnut and the Horse chestnut are not only two unrelated species they are also from different families and orders in the plant kingdom. In order for grafting to be possible I think that the two trees must be at least from the same genus although there may be a few rare exceptions to this.

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  77. I have several trees in my side yard and a percentage of the nuts simply sprout each spring.

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  78. I have a Horse Chestnut in my yard. If it wasn't such a great shade tree it would be HISTORY in nothin' flat. This is the messiest tree I have ever had the misfortune to be around. We moved here in August last year, just in time for the fall, fall (pods, nuts, leaves), lots of fun clean-up, (coupled with a walnut, same crap). Then comes the spring. Lovely white flowers. However then they & their seed coverings dropped...I have a non-stop supply of some kind of sticky brown stuff I have no idea how to get rid of. It sticks to shoes, feet, dogs..That's almost the worst, because my dogs are small & it gets all over them & is difficult to get off. HELP!!!!! How do I clean this mess up?

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  79. Got the same thing, and the tree's not even in my land, but public parkland. Any solution to the horrible sticky carpet we get in Spring would be gratefully received

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  80. Thanks for the blog! We just moved into a new home in BC and have now identified both house chestnuts AND sweet chestnuts! Also, we seem to have two varieties of walnut and what I think is a filbert tree? ?Any idea a on a site with good clear pictures of the fruit (nut) of different trees BEFORE they are shelled? All the pics I find arm to show the shelled nuts and I would like top identify my nuts before going to all the work of drying and shelling.

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  81. Thanks SO MUCH! I have been browsing for free food in my rural neighborhood and was SURE those horse chestnuts looked YUMMY! GLAD TO FIND THIS SITE AND YOUR SKULL AND CROSSBONES!

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  82. I HATE Sweet Chestnuts.... First time I ran into one it was a quarter inch into my palm. I was 15 and visiting my gran at her cabin during winter, a layer of snow was on the ground so my brothers and I decided to make a snowman.

    Fun fact- dried chestnuts stick in snow and lift off the ground with it while you roll it. They also stick IN the snow so you can't see them.

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  83. Thank you so much for posting this! I walk my neighbors dogs and we have horse chestnuts growing everywhere in my neighborhood. The pups go crazy trying to eat them, and I was looking to see if they are indeed poisonous as I suspected, and now I know! I will be even more vigilant to keep them away. Sounds like it takes quite a few to cause serious damage, but better to keep them away from poisonous plants!

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  84. A huge storm last night left piles of chestnuts underneath the tree across the street. I was full of joy at the thought of picking and roasting them... thank gosh I came here first and found out that they are unfortunately the poisonous ones!

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  85. Help....just moved onto a new farm, found several chestnut trees in the back yard....these have a smooth yellowish/green skin. Does anyone know what kind these are and if they are edible?????
    Please email me at dh.bottoms.up.07@gmail.com
    Thank You
    D. Holt

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  86. Thanks for the pictures! I appear to have the good kind of chestnut tree in my back yard. We have tons of these in our neighborhood (in Southwestern PA).

    These trees are a total pain. Each spring/fall I have to collect the spiky balls that fall from the tree. You do not want to play in my backyard until I've raked a few times. We call it the 'prickly' tree. If you even get one little skinny sliver of the prickly in you it burns! Imagine my kids in their bare feet!

    In June the tree puts these worm-looking fuzzy things out from the leaf clusters. These fuzzy things stink like pee or something. It's a weird smell but only lasts for about a week or so.

    We let the deer and squirrels eat the nuts but there are so many I wondered if we could eat them too. Thanks for your article!

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  87. Sweet chestnuts are edible raw, boiled or roasted! They are very popular in China. Chestnuts are often peeled and cooked with chicken in China. The Chinese believe that cooked chestnuts are good to one's kidney. However, they are not easy to digest, so don't eat too much one time.

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  88. My favorite memories of my childhood were climbing and swinging from the horse chestnut tree in my side yard. It was a messy tree with the thorny shells and nuts that fell to the ground. I was warned as a child not to eat them. You can imagine my confusion at Christmas time when "The Christmas Song" played.

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  89. Thank you. I was about to eat one, but something told me to look into the matter a little closer because the squirrels were leaving them alone...

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  90. Thank God for this site!! My daughter has a chestnut tree in her yard and I decided to collect them. I got recipes from the internet and was intending to bag them with the recipes attached and give to family and friends. Well, I looked at your site and realized they were horse chestnuts! I am lucky I researched before giving them out. I would not want to be responsible for my whole family getting sick.

    Thanks again.

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  91. Horse Chestnut is also effective in the prevention of vein diseases.

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  92. Some very good information about edible chestnuts is on a site called . Check it out if you wish.

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