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European chesnut, Castanea sativa / Fagaceae
The chestnut tree is original from the Mediterranean regions of Europe. The world production reaches 500.000t and Spain produces 18.000t.

For a long time it was thought that the chestnut tree had been brought from the East to Europe in the Roman times; but later on that thesis was refuted by the excavations of prehistoric areas: the chestnut trees exist in Europe since the end of the Tertiary era, and they have been classified as native plants of the Mediterranean regions. Little by little, it has been introduced in other European countries, and at present they are cultivated in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Turkey, Austria, Hungary, Rumania, former Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, the South of Belgium and England and there are also some in the Netherlands. Their natural area spreads around the southern part of Europe, from the south of England and the Iberian Peninsula and near the Caspian Sea, the Atlantic Canary Islands and Madeira, and north of Morocco and Algeria. Some have been introduced artificially into the north of Germany and the south of Sweden, although in those latitudes its culture is not very productive.

The world production is 500,000 tons; the European production is 120.000t. In Spain, the communities with the most important chestnut tree culture are Asturias, Galicia, Cataluña and Castilla-León, with a total production of 18.000t. In fact, the name Spanish Chestnut or Castaña Española is most surely due to the Spanish exports to the north of Europe: In Spain this fruit has a traditional value, particularly on the first of November, All Saints Day.

The first import country of chestnuts is Japan; the rest are the following:
CountryTons
Japan34,726
France9,413
China6,665
The USA4,722
Germany3,847
Austria3,377
Hungary2,991
Switzerland2,813
Spain2,722
Italy2,671


Source: The FAO Trade (1999)
The main export countries are China and Italy. The amounts of chestnuts exported in these and other countries are the following:
CountryTons
China34,102
Italy22,332
Korea14,528
Portugal8,045
Turkey7,827
Spain5,710
France2,247
Bolivia831
Singapur619
Austria509


Source: The FAO Trade (1999)

Spain exports fresh and processed chestnuts to the United Kingdom, France and Italy, and also to South America, the United States and Japan. Sometimes, the quantity has surpassed 10.000t.

In order to supply some Galician processing industries, fresh chestnuts are imported from Portugal; for processed products such as marron glacé, purees and jams, they are imported mainly from France and Italy, even reaching 2.000t.

The Spanish production is the following:
AreaHectaresTons
Galicia21,5567,390
Castilla y León17,1267,327
Andalucía2,6281,955
Extremadura8,8451,383
Asturias58,433140
Castilla-La Mancha9164
Navarra2,090-
Cataluña17,231 -
País Vasco537-
Total128,53718,259


Source: La Horticultura Española (2001)
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