Talakatak or Castanopsis philippinensis is from family Fagaceae like oak trees and beeches, it is an endemic tree here in the Philippines. The taste and texture of the fruit is comparable with the European chestnut or Chinese chestnut that is being sold roasted, during Christmas season or New Year celebration. Sadly, it is becoming a rare site now due to the old population of trees not being replaced by new younger ones that can bear more fruits, including factors such as logging because of its hardwood, fungal attacks, and other natural enemies of this huge tree.
Talakatak can grow up to 28 meters in height, mature trees typically have globular spreading crowns with oblong-lanceolate, toothed, dull green leaves, turn shades of yellow in summer, male flowers are aromatic in yellow-white colour. Densely clustered in slender catkins. Female flowers appear in smaller inconspicuous catkins, which blooms during ber months and produces nuts. Bating, Tulakatak, or Talakatak can be found in the forest of Malinao, Albay, from different towns of Bulacan, from Bicol in Camarines, in Siniloan in Laguna, Montalban and Antipolo in Rizal also have, in Lucban, Quezon, from Oriental Mindoro, in Nueva Vizcaya, Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Buenavista near Jaro, Leyte, Samar, Agusan del Norte, North Cotabato and even in Basilan.
The decreasing population of wild boars, that consumes the fruit and suppose to help in scattering the bating or chestnut in other parts of the forest, thus it is a possible explanation why the old trees failed to produce enough wildlings. For the health benefits from the castañas nuts please read the following below:
- It contains antioxidants such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A, copper, zinc, ellagic, and gallic acids that can reduce the damage cause by free radicals in the body coming from pollution and the food that we eat. It also help us to prevent cancer.
- It is good for pregnant mom and their offspring due to minerals such as magnesium essential for avoiding metabolic syndrome, copper for cognitive and skeletal development among infants, zinc which is important for growth, and 1.7mg of iron in every 100 grams of chestnuts, which makes them a relatively good source of the minerals during pregnancy.
- It may help prevent cardiovascular diseases due to its excellent calcium content that can prevent the disease. The dietary intake of calcium or its supplementation can reduce mortality caused by ischemic heart disease in postmenopausal women.
- It can help to manage diabetes due to its magnesium content, which plays a vital role in the secretion of insulin, and its deficiency causes problems with insulin sensitivity and also increases the chance of the individual developing insulin resistance, and hyperglycemia.
- It can also prevent high blood pressure and help in treating preeclampsia among pregnant women, just like what happened to my wife that resulted to the death of our supposedly first born child Voltaire. Copper and magnesium regulates blood functions including blood pressure itself.
For the cultivation, it is better to perform grafting of the female stems in order to produce fruits which contains the castañas.