chestnut


chestnut
chestnutty, adj.
/ches"nut', -neuht/, n.
1. any of the several deciduous trees constituting the genus Castanea, of the beech family, having toothed, oblong leaves and bearing edible nuts enclosed in a prickly bur, and including C. dentata (American chestnut), which has been virtually destroyed by the chestnut blight, C. sativa (European chestnut), C. mollissima (Chinese chestnut), and C. crenata (Japanese chestnut).
2. the edible nut of such a tree.
3. the wood of any of these trees.
4. any fruit or tree resembling the chestnut, as the horse chestnut.
5. reddish brown.
6. an old or stale joke, anecdote, etc.
7. the callosity on the inner side of the leg of a horse. See diag. under horse.
8. a reddish-brown horse having the mane and tail of the same color. Cf. bay5 (def. 2).
9. Also called liver chestnut. a horse of a solid, dark-brown color.
10. pull someone's chestnuts out of the fire, to rescue someone from a difficulty.
adj.
11. reddish-brown.
12. (of food) containing or made with chestnuts: turkey with chestnut stuffing.
[1350-1400; 1880-85 for def. 6; earlier chesten nut, ME chesten, OE cysten chestnut tree ( < L castanea < Gk kastanéa) + NUT]

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I
Any of four species of deciduous ornamental and timber trees of the genus Castanea, in the beech family.

Native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, they bear burrlike fruits that contain two or three edible nuts. The usually tall trees have furrowed bark and lance-shaped leaves. The American chestnut (C. dentata), which once extended over a large area of eastern North America, has been almost eliminated by chestnut blight. The other three species are the European chestnut (C. sativa), the Chinese chestnut (C. mollissima), and the Japanese chestnut (C. crenata). The nuts of these three have local importance as food and are exported in large quantities, and varieties of all three are cultivated as ornamentals. The European chestnut produces useful timber as well; the American chestnut also was an important source of lumber and nuts before the arrival of the blight.
II
(as used in expressions)
horse chestnut family

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plant
      any of four species of deciduous ornamental and timber trees of the genus Castanea in the beech family (Fagaceae), native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, the burlike fruits of which contain two or three edible nuts. The remaining six or more Castanea species bear single-fruited burs and are known as chinquapins, which is also a common name for trees in the related genus Castanopsis.

      Plants commonly called chestnut but not of the genus Castanea are the cape chestnut, a South African evergreen tree of the rue family (Rutaceae); the horse chestnut (see buckeye); the Moreton Bay chestnut; the palm chestnut, a tree of the palm family (Arecaceae); and the water chestnut (q.v.).

      A chestnut tree is usually tall, with furrowed bark and lance-shaped leaves. Most male flowers are borne in long, upright catkins; female flowers are arranged singly or in clusters at the base of short male catkins.

      The American chestnut (C. dentata), a fast-growing tree that often reached 30 metres (100 feet), formerly extended over a large area of eastern North America from which it has been virtually eliminated by chestnut blight (q.v.), a fungal disease. Vigorous stump sprouts are found in many areas, but most harbour the fungus, and repeated attacks deter the cultivation of the species for its timber or nuts. Crosses of the remaining trees with resistant Asian species have produced a few blight-resistant hybrids, now being developed to replace the American chestnut.

      The European chestnut (C. sativa), also 30 m tall, is native to Eurasia and northern Africa; it is often called sweet, Spanish, or Eurasian chestnut. The Chinese chestnut (C. mollissi ma), usually less than 18 m tall, grows at altitudes up to 2,440 m. The Japanese chestnut (C. crenata), a similar shrub or tree that may grow to 9 m or more, is found at elevations of less than 915 m; it has heart-shaped leaves about 17 cm long.

      The nuts of the European, Chinese, and Japanese chestnuts have local importance as food and are exported in large quantities. Small nuts of the European chestnut are used as feed for livestock or are milled into flour; choice nuts, called marrons, come from varieties developed to produce one large nut in the bur. Varieties of all three trees are cultivated as ornamentals in Europe, North America, and Asia. The European chestnut produces useful timber as well; the American chestnut also was an important source of lumber and nuts before the arrival of the blight.

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Universalium. 2010.

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