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Going Nuts for Ancient Trees

Help us discover the UK's sweet and gentle giants


For the next month the Ancient tree Hunt is asking people across the country to help us record large sweet chestnut trees. There are thousands of these gentle giants gracing the British landscape that have not yet been recorded on to our data base of ancient trees.

Currently the British public and our partner organisations have helped us record a staggering 73,000 ancient, veteran and notable trees and our target is to have over 100,000 records by the end of 2011 creating the greatest survey of old trees ever undertaken.

So if you find a gentle giant which you think is not on the Ancient Tree Hunt data base visit www.ancienttreehunt.org.uk and follow the simple instructions as to how to enter a record. If you want to find what magnificent trees are in your area you can click on "Find" and enter your place name or postcode and if you click the button on the right marked “Ancient, veteran and notable trees” and icons will appear with information on local trees.

Sweet chestnut trees are wonderfully easy to spot in the autumn with their distinctive long finger-like leaves and their spiny seed cases. Typically the trunks of old trees are gloriously twisted.

Sweet chestnuts have been an important food in the Mediterranean for thousands of years and are believed to have been brought to the UK by the Romans – a portable army food. The largest ever recorded tree was a sweet chestnut on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily which measures an astonishing 204ft (68m) round the trunk in 1770.

The UK’s oldest known sweet chestnut is at Tortworth in Gloucestershire which, as legend has it, was planted during the reign of King Egbert in 800AD. There have been written records about the tree since the 12th century lending credence to the myth.

If you would like to know more about the botany, cultural history and uses of chestnut click here.

We have also created a list of the largest sweet chestnuts in each county and also the number of records we have for each county. Click here to see the table