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The Dunipace Sweet Chestnut Tree

Find out about one of the oldest trees in Scotland.

This tree has been verified as being between 300 and 400 years old

This Sweet Chestnut tree is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in Scotland and probably in the UK as well. It has a girth of over 28 feet, and it could be as much as 400 years old. Some years ago, its trunk was damaged, and to keep it standing it was reported that the local council poured concrete into the hole. Incredibly, it still flourishes, and one of its seeds has successfully germinated and the sapling is growing well.

This tree has been verified as being between 300 and 400 years old. An excerpt from the Denny & Dunipace Heritage Society minutes of 10th July 2006 reveals that a steward sent a leaf and pictures of the tree to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Kew for identification of species. In a few days the replies confirmed that the tree is a Spanish (or Sweet) Chestnut, Castanea sativa. Given that its girth is 28 feet it is probably, they said, about 300 years old. As recommended by the experts, the tree was registered with the Woodland Trust in their Ancient Tree Hunt website.
 

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This species is native to Southern Europe and was reputedly brought to the UK by the Romans. It became a popular tree with the owners of estates, and reputedly was made particularly popular in Scotland by Mary Queen of Scots. It was very fashionable for the owners of large houses in the early 17th century to plant Spanish chestnuts so it may well be that it is 400 years old. The tree has been registered on The Woodland Trust website where it is known as the King Tree and has “veteran status” of “ancient tree.” 

A seed from the tree was sown and germinated in 2008 and has been growing well in a pot, being cared for by a member of the Denny & Dunipace Heritage Society. It is almost ready to be planted adjacent to the parent tree. At the time of writing, the Denny & Dunipace Heritage Society is trying to have the tree protected.

 

By Stewart Johnstone of the Denny & Dunipace Heritage Society

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  • References & Bibliography
  • All images courtesy of Denny & Dunipace Heritage Society (except chestnut which is in the public domain).
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