Q&As/Fruit Trees & Berries or Garden Trees/Avocados and Chestnuts
I have several self-seeded avocados, in Masterton - is it worth letting them grow - could they produce edible fruit? Also, I have a large horse chestnut tree, and while walking in the park I collected chestnuts and their casings from two different looking chestnut trees, in case they’re edible. How do I identify them?
Growing avocado from seed means that you have approximately a one in 10,000 chance of your trees providing regular crops of avocados. This is why when you go to a garden centre to purchase a tree they are always grafted, hence the variety names; Hass, Reed, Zutano, Ferte or Bacon.
Horse Chestnuts belong to the genus Aesculus and produce large spikey fruits that contain nuts that look very similar to chestnuts, but are quite inedible (see the first image). Horse Chestnut trees are usually grown for their attractive white, pink or red flowers that are stunning in spring.
Castanea sativa, or sweet chestnut, produce edible (see the second image) fruit and are far larger trees with a distinctive canopy form, whereas Horse Chestnuts have a more upright habit.
Unfortunately, the two fruits are quite similar in appearance. Check with local horticulture authorities or your local council that manages the park where they are growing before you embark on collecting fruit for roasting.