- Botanical name: Castanospermum is a monotypic genus of evergreen trees belonging to the legume family (Fabaceae). Includes a single species, Australian castanospermum, or southern (C. australe). In culture, it is grown as a houseplant, in regions with a warm climate it is used for landscaping garden plots and streets.
- Homeland chestnut: Australia.
- Lighting: photophilous.
- Soil: slightly acidic, nutritious, loose consistency.
- Watering: plentiful in summer, moderate in winter.
- Maximum tree height: in nature up to 30 m, in rooms up to 3 m.
- Average lifespan of a tree: 50-150 years.
- Landing: propagated by seeds, less often by cuttings.
Castanospermum, also known as “house chestnut” or “indoor chestnut”, is native to the east coast of Australia and the nearby islands of Melanesia, where wet, rainy weather combines with year-round high temperatures.
Large, up to 45 cm long, glossy, dark green leaves of castanospermum are located oppositely on the branches and have a characteristic pinnate shape, characteristic of most members of the legume family. They consist of 9 – 17 separate segments, oval, pointed, slightly wavy along the edge, the length of each lobe reaches 15 cm, the width is up to 7 cm.
Decorative chestnut flower in nature
The flower of indoor chestnut is very decorative, large, up to 4 cm, red-yellow, with long stamens, a five-membered calyx and a moth-type corolla.
Individual flowers are collected in dense axillary cluster-shaped inflorescences, in their homeland, in Australia, bloom in November-December and adorn the tree for six months. Unfortunately, the chestnut does not bloom at home.
Interestingly, in nature, the chestnut flower is pollinated not by insects, but by bats and birds. After flowering, fruits are formed on it, long, up to 25 cm, cylindrical pods, dark green when immature, acquiring a dark brown color as they ripen. Inside each fruit, three to five large, about 3-3.5 cm in diameter, dark brown seeds are formed, outwardly resembling the fruits of a sowing chestnut, which is why the tree got its name, the locals also call it “Moreton Coast chestnut” , or “black beans”.
In regions with a warm climate, the crop is grown as a street plant, using it for landscaping cities and garden plots, as well as for strengthening and protecting soils from erosion due to a powerful, deeply penetrating root system. As indoor flowers, house chestnuts are also quite popular. Miniature trees have an exotic appearance, sprouting from the middle of a large seed, which is located on the surface of the soil and persists for six months, nourishing the young shoot.
Due to the high content of saponins, the fruits and leaves of this ornamental chestnut are poisonous, which must be taken into account when cultivating it at home.
Interestingly, the Australian Aborigines still eat the seeds, for which they are pre-crushed, soaked for a long time, and only then fried or ground into flour.
Houseplant chestnut at home
Despite the durability and relative unpretentiousness of indoor chestnut, caring for it when growing at home has its own characteristics. In order for a tree to develop well and remain decorative for a long time, it needs to provide conditions close to natural: a moderately high temperature throughout the year, from 26 ° C in summer to 18-20 ° C in autumn and winter, and bright diffused lighting. Temperatures below 12 – 16 ° C are not suitable for the plant and can lead to its death. The most optimal placement of the flower on the northwestern or eastern window sills, the bright rays of the midday sun on the south side can damage delicate leaves, with a lack of lighting on the northern windows, growth slows down, and the foliage loses its bright color and glossy shine. In summer, the pot can be taken out to the balcony or garden, choosing a warm place, protected from the winds and direct sun, in winter it needs to be provided with the best possible lighting.
Below are photos of a homemade chestnut grown in open ground and in pots as a room crop, a tree in bloom, as well as images of the fruits and flowers of this exotic plant:
The flower needs abundant watering in spring and summer, and moderate moisture without overdrying the earthy coma in autumn and winter. It is poured with water at room temperature, to reduce its hardness it is better to defend it for a long time, which will also help get rid of chlorine impurities. The plant tolerates a lack of water better than its excess, the latter can provoke root rot, especially in winter.
Humidification is also an important element of care. Home chestnut responds well to regular spraying with soft water and warm showers, especially relevant in winter, since the dry air of apartments with central heating is extremely unfavorable for this inhabitant of humid coastal forests.
After water procedures, it is not recommended to place a flower pot near heaters or batteries, heated water droplets can cause burns on delicate leaves.
Twice a month throughout the season, the crop is fed, for which you can use both organic and complex mineral fertilizers.
To form a beautiful crown, young plants need pruning; in mature ones, it is enough to pinch the tops of the shoots to prevent them from stretching.
Regular transplantation for culture is mandatory, it is produced in the spring, for young specimens – annually, for adults – after 2-3 years. Large mature plants are transplanted less often, but it is recommended to change the topsoil annually. Use spacious pots with high drainage. As soil, you can purchase ready-made substrates for decorative leafy crops or ficuses. A prerequisite is a neutral or slightly acidic reaction, high nutritional value, loose texture and dark color.
Reproduction of indoor flower chestnut
To propagate a chestnut flower, seeds are used, which are soaked in warm water for a day, then planted in a light substrate, laid out on the surface and mulched with a layer of charcoal for prevention, and germinated at a temperature of 18 – 25 ° C. After two or three months, sprouts appear from them; to speed up the process, the cotyledons can be treated with phytohormones. Young plants are fed every two to three weeks, transplanted into a large container six months later, after which the cotyledons wrinkle and fall off.