The Secrets of the Trees
We hold our Mystic Magic in the Forest weekend retreats at Rosliston, in Rosliston National Forest, near Burton upon Trent, just south of Derby in the Midlands. Our retreats are themed, but often include an appreciation of nature, walks, the significance of trees in Spiritual and Pagan history, and their myths and legends. This blog charts the story, in instalments, of those trees, and all of those to be found at Rosliston, around forty species. Each tree is to be found at Rosliston, but may also be found more widely around Great Britain, Europe, North America and beyond.
In these blogs I describe each tree, explain where they are found, what their history is and how they have related to our history. I also explore the myths and legends surrounding the trees in different countries and from different traditions as well as how herbalists have used them to treat human conditions and how products from the trees have been used throughout history. I hope that you enjoy reading these tree blogs as much as I have enjoyed writing them for you. If you would like to come and see them in their natural habitat why not join us for one of our retreats?
Sweet Chestnut – castanea sativa
The Sweet Chestnut, not to be confused with the horse chestnut, is native to the Mediterranean and was introduced to Britain by the Romans. The leaves are large and edged with sharp saw teeth. The fruit is green and spiny which splits in the autumn to release edible nuts.
Most sweet chestnuts sold to eat are not British as the climate is not favourable for the nuts to ripen. Hence, they do not germinate freely and most are planted, not wild. Chestnut wood is similar to oak and is used for panelling and beams, it resists the weather so is useful for the outdoors.
The nuts are a rich food source which can be boiled, roasted, ground, into flour made into puddings (polenta, still eaten today), cakes, bread and porridge. They are a traditional Christmas delicacy wit stuffing, Xenophon reported that the Persian nobility grew fat on them.