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American chestnut

566 Views 8 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  greg_r
Just finished planting a couple chestnut trees. My SIL gave them to us. They came from the American chestnut hybridizing work at WVU. They've been working on crossing native American chestnut with Chinese to make them blight resistant. These are 94% American.
I never dreamed the day would come when I could plant these trees. Hoping to be able to buy a bunch in the spring and just plug them in here and there on the ridge. I know I'll never live long enough to see them in their glory....but you gotta start somewhere.
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There's a lot of excitement around the american chessnut. Got really big when they found one still alive 5 or 10 years back.

Personally, I think I'd rather see more effective targeted anti-fungals than hybridized plants in the wild.

Peace favor your sword,
The American Chestnut is not extinct as many believe. We have a half dozen or so on the farm. It has been some years ago, but there was a biologist from state university who was at the farm. She said how many had been planted. I can not remember now, but I know it was in the million. She said in the prime, there were so many billion of the American Chestnut Trees. I do enjoy the roasted nuts at Christmas time.

I agree with the hybridized trees. Seems like you mess with nature and it never works out. The biologist also said that no trees were immune, but the Japanese and Chinese chestnut trees grow over the infection where the American trees will not. Again, I am going by memory. It’s been years and I have slept, several times, since then. Like @Errant alluded to, she called it a "century project" meaning that the people working so hard to bring the American Chestnut back to its former glory will never see the fruits of their labor.
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Actually, over the years, I've found a couple dozen in the wild. They come up from live roots. Once they get to around 6" or so the blight gets them. I don't mind a hybrid if it means restoring them to their past numbers. I think every county in WV has a chestnut ridge or mountain or flat.
The trees on the farm are huge. Bigger around than I can reach and maybe 80 -100 feet tall. There are 3 grouped kind of close together, the others are in the same general area. An area about the size of a football field. I know of others around too. Maybe 20-25 in all. All are huge, don’t think I have ever seen any small ones, or either I don’t know what I am looking at. The give-away to me is the spiked pods.
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Wow...the only big American chestnut trees I've ever seen were very very dead. Are you north central USA? I've heard of people moving there and bringing nuts with them. It's out of the blight area.. supposedly.
Nope, right in the heart of Dixie at the gateway to the Smokey Mtns. The trees have been there as long as I can remember.
You have a true gem. I've heard of places in the east
that have been spared the blight. Its neat to be able to talk to someone who has mature trees. I hope they outlive all of us.
I just did an internet search and found this article / interview. They say there are approximately 4 million American Chestnut trees in the higher elevations of North Carolina. The article goes on to say that the American Chestnut trees were killed off by imported Asian trees. Now I am wondering if these trees I know of are Asian trees, as they are an hours drive from the mountains.

from the article:
There’s actually probably 4 million chestnut trees still alive in the state of North Carolina in the mountains.
4 million trees is nothing compared to the billions of chestnut trees that once dominated our forests. But still, I was surprised to discover a chestnut tree this summer in Blowing Rock……

The American chestnut tree, soaring over 100 feet tall, was the dominant tree of our eastern forests. Then shortly after the Civil War a New York plantsman imported Asian chestnuts and began propagating and marketing them. The Asian trees were smaller and for thirty years these trees were introduced into gardens, estates, and public settings along the east coast.
Problem was these Asian natives harbored a fungus which they had co-evolved with and developed a resistance to. But our American trees —they were vulnerable. A small fungus toppled the giants of the American forest. Millions of trees were clear cut in an effort to stop the lethal virus. It didn’t work and by the 1930s the American chestnut tree had receded from view…..

the article:
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