american chestnut range

The American chestnut (Castanea dentata) was one of the most common trees in the area. A Purdue University study shows that the growth rate, size and longevity of chestnuts let them store more carbon, and at a faster rate, than any other hardwood. To develop resistance to the blight, young trees are inoculated with samples of the chestnut blight fungus. By the 1950s destruction was complete. Existing trials have examined planting in gaps of various sizes, clearcuts, closed canopy, shelterwoods, and multi-step management prescriptions. It’s possible that hypovirulence might help, in Hebard’s words, “to put the, These restoration chestnuts at Meadowview Research Farm show resistance to the blight. The American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) is a large, deciduous tree of the beech family native to eastern North America. Consider supporting American Forests to help us continue our work to restore, and grow healthy and resilient forests and city canopies all over the country! (Credit: Vicky Sawyer). Planting will continue in national forests. It is the only species of chestnut native to Canada. There are now only 100 or so that remain. (Credit: American Chestnut Foundation), It sits alone in the middle of a pasture near Amherst, Virginia, full of healed-over cankers, its crown wracked by storms, but enduring. There’s also an ancient chestnut tree that Fred Hebard directs you to on your route home from Meadowview. American chestnut. The extinction of the passenger pigeon, and the near extinction of bison — all around the same time — were in the same ballpark. The loss of the chestnut was an ecological calamity with few equals. And before they died, the little chestnuts exhibited about the same response to the blight, forming only slight cankers, as he would have expected of naturally resistant Chinese chestnuts. Related Links. Burnworth explains that American chestnuts have an extraordinary ability to “release,” or spurt toward the light when surrounding canopy trees die. When you decide to start planting American chestnut trees, it’s important to begin early in the spring. In the next couple years, Hebard says, there will be larger-scale, more formal experiments testing the latest generation of trees’ resistance alongside Chinese chestnuts. Known as “redwoods of the East,” chestnuts grew fast and big, and lived long, reaching 100 feet in height, with diameters exceeding 12 feet, and attaining an average age of two to three centuries. However, the species was devastated by chestnut blight, a fungal disease that came from introduced chestnut trees from East Asia. Fax: 202.737.2457 In Carroll County, Maryland, in partnership with the American Chestnut Foundation and American Forests, more than 18,000 school children each year participate in a science curriculum built around experimental chestnut orchards. More than a thousand place names that contain the word chestnut remain today throughout the Appalachians, which were the heart of the species’ range. They anticipated the effort would, after several generations, produce a chestnut fit for recovering a vanished part of the American landscape and heritage. Chestnut wood was used to make furniture, shingles, siding, telephone poles, and fence posts. Many clear-cuts literally explode with long-suppressed chestnuts racing for the light. American chestnut is a member of the beech family. A 94% American backcross hybrid, which characteristics of the American species, but the resistance of the Chinese. The American chestnut is native to southern and eastern parts of the United States, particularly along the Appalachian Mountains. The main concession to how the forest has changed since the chestnut last dominated will be a sturdy deer fence (“Please, make deer reduction the lead of your story,” implored one chestnut breeder). The chestnut was a common species in the deciduous forests of the upland Appalachian region, which stretches from Maine to northern Mississippi and includes southern New York. Far more numerous are chestnuts that sprout from the roots of felled forest giants, only to die in a decade or two from the deadly fungus that may never go away. Endangered. The profound impact forests had on one of America’s greatest authors and his writing. For more details on the American chestnut tree, please visit our Field Guide page. All Rights Reserved. “Oh, they all died.” Researchers say they are strong performers, reaching three to seven feet, some flowering at an earlier age than normal. He cites pollen profiles from North American lakes that show virtually all hemlocks simply vanished from the forests some 5,000 years ago — probably of a disease still unknown — and then reappeared throughout their range a few centuries later. Once these crosses produced trees that were carrying chiefly the American chestnut genome — as much as 90 percent — they were ... state and national sites in the chestnut’s historical range. European chestnut (C. sativa) is also quite susceptible. Researchers say they are strong performers, reaching three to seven feet, some flowering at an earlier age than normal. American chestnut. Their profusion of bloom supported honeybees and other pollinators. The American chestnut was one of the most important forest trees throughout its range and was considered the finest chestnut tree in the world. Because it was one of the largest trees in eastern forests, it earned the title of “mighty giant." Silvicultural and reintroduction trials provide an opportunity to experiment with planting chestnuts on field and forested sites. Even the Boy Scouts pitched in to try and save the chestnuts, scouring forests for blighted trees as part of a multi-state effort to create an infection-free zone. Complementary programs would be added throughout the historic range of the chestnut as the foundation’s state chapters grew to include 15 states. If there was an “Aha!” moment in bringing American chestnuts back this far from the brink, it came around 1980 when Charles Burnham, a corn geneticist, read of the shutdown of a decades-long, failed attempt by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to breed a resistant chestnut. The American chestnut tree reigned over 200 million acres of eastern woodlands from Maine to Florida, and from the Piedmont plateau in the Carolinas west to the Ohio Valley, until succumbing to a lethal fungus infestation, known as the chestnut blight, during the first half of the 20th century. He hit them hard with a massive dose, much more severe than they’d have received in nature, he says. (Courtesy photo American Chestnut Foundation) Sometimes reaching a height of more than 100 feet tall with trunk diameters often well over 10 feet, the American chestnut was the giant of the eastern U.S. forests. A modest but historic planting of several hundred little chestnuts has completed their first full growing season in the wild on U.S. Forest Service lands in Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. It survives in the wild in the form of root systems and stump sprouts. Chestnuts dominated eastern hardwood forests not only in numbers; an estimated three to four billion trees across more than 30 million acres. Free! This planting, at a place fittingly known as Chestnut Ridge, will intersperse the chestnuts with other native species — white pine, red oak, black cherry, sugar maple — “the first attempt to see how they compete in a real-world situation,” says Sara Fitzsimmons, another chestnut researcher at Penn State. Map Legend. You cross Chinese and American parent trees, then breed successive generations back to the desired (American) parent, eventually winnowing out all the undesired Chinese characteristics (shrubby growth, for example) except for its disease-resistance. Burnham had always assumed that program, which crossed thousands of American and Chinese trees since the 1930s, would eventually succeed. One of the funders of that project is Duke Energy, which is interested in the chestnut’s potential to reclaim coal-mining land, but also in its promise for sequestering carbon dioxide. The American chestnut tree was extremely useful to those who lived in its range. Interactive Koppen Climate Classification Map for the United States; American chestnut was once a dominant and widespread canopy tree through many parts of the country, its range stretching from Mississippi to Maine. But because of its size and rather coarse look, and the possible litter of the prickly nut husks, it might be best-suited to a woodlot or semi-wild area. Scientists think the problems lie partly in the large number of strains in which both blight and hypovirulence occur. “Maybe only yellow poplar, on excellent yellow poplar sites, might outgrow it,” says Kim Steiner. The wood from the tree was fairly light but strong and was fairly easy to work with. This species once was a dominant … The wood was nearl… Backcrossing was how the King Ranch bred its famed Santa Gertrudis cattle to produce excellent meat while surviving the harsh south-Texas environment. An Incredible Tree. There are also ongoing efforts to develop trees that are resistant to the disease. The American chestnut rose 100, sometimes 120, feet above the loamy forest floor. It is present in parts of West Virginia, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania. Once, their creamy June bloom so festooned the eastern hardwood forests that they looked from afar “like a sea with white combers plowing across its surface,” wrote the naturalist Donald Culross Peattie. Furthermore, they believe that the progeny of these plants should all exhibit natural blight resistance. At the University of Maryland’s Biotechnology Center in Shadyside, virologist Donald Nuss has been dissecting the American strains of hypovirulence, trying to understand why they don’t spread as easily in the wild here as they do in Europe. There is a lot of incompatibility, which retards spreading; also, European chestnuts probably have a little more natural resistance than American chestnuts, which allows the hypoviruses to work more easily there. “Chestnut brown was considered the most beautiful shade of a woman’s hair, and the man who had a chestnut beard was usually considered handsome… silks and satins were available in chestnut brown,” wrote 101-year-old Georgia Miller of Pennsylvania a few years ago, recalling her childhood in chestnut forests. It was some hundred years ago that these chestnut trees dominated the forested hills and mountains. A chestnut with a disease-resistant wheat gene has already been produced experimentally by researchers William Powell and Charles Maynard at the State University of New York’s Environmental Science and Forestry school in Syracuse. Native range of the American chestnut tree (castanea dentata) The American chestnut tree reigned over 200 million acres of eastern woodlands from Maine to Florida, and from the Piedmont plateau in the Carolinas west to the Ohio Valley, until succumbing to a lethal fungus infestation, known as the chestnut blight, during the first half of the 20th century. While the Chestnut Foundation’s new, resistant trees are the first soldiers to be deployed against the blight, other ongoing programs could soon bear fruit: a chestnut genetically engineered for blight resistance; genetically altered strains of the blight fungus itself that weaken it; and, farther from success, breeding a pure native with resistance by crossing old survivor chestnuts to one another. Special Concern. That’s the merest wisp of what Peattie described; “But we’re excited,” says Meghan Jordan of the American Chestnut Foundation (ACF), which supplied the trees. An American Chestnut Tree planted inside Bernheim’s Arboretum Prior to the 1900s, the American chestnut tree once dominated over 200 million acres of the eastern hardwood forest from Maine to Georgia, and west to the Ohio River Valley. Hebard was even a model for a character in local writer Barbara Kingsolver’s best selling novel, Prodigal Summer: The American chestnut’s distinctive leaves, burs, and nuts. The hypovirus here may make the blight too weak, so that it can’t spread in a less destructive form; in effect, vaccinating the chestnuts it encounters against the full-strength blight. Tennessee. Among his concerns is whether we fully understand all the mechanisms chestnuts employ to resist the blight; also “Will the Chinese chestnut’s resistance, even if we put it all into an American tree, be enough? The American chestnut was once the king of the forest. There is plenty of evidence that genetic resistance to disease can be recovered by crossing even trees with relatively low resistance; but it is taking awhile — “We’re about halfway there,” he ventures. It has elongate leaves tapered at both ends and large teeth along the margins. Burnham and other scientists in 1983 founded the private, nonprofit American Chestnut Foundation to carry out a scientific program of backcross breeding. If you could custom design the ideal tree species, you couldn’t come up with a better one than American chestnut. Status Endangered TACF National Office 50 North Merrimon Avenue, Suite 115, Asheville, NC 28804, Phone: 828-281-0047 Fax: 828-253-5373 chestnut@acf.org. Reaching over 30 metres tall and living up to 500 years, the chestnut was known as “the queen of eastern American forest trees.” So what happened to what was once also called the “redwood of the East?” An estimated 4 billion American chestnuts, up to 1/4 of the hardwood tree population, grew within this range. After decades, their closest success was a single hybrid, dubbed the Clapper tree after its breeder. But now comes the best hope in over a century for restoring the species that once comprised a quarter of all eastern hardwoods, with economic and environmental values unmatched by anything in today’s forest. Lifespan American chestnuts that are not blight-resistant live only about five years. Special Concern. The American chestnut is not extinct. All evidence is that if the blight can be overcome, the chestnut can outcompete most any other hardwood to become part of the forest canopy. *Are you enjoying this post? Gary Griffin, Hebard’s PhD mentor at Virginia Tech, says these most ancient survivor trees almost all share a few characteristics. A project to spot chestnuts sprouting within sight of the Appalachian Trail has so far turned up more than 40,000, Burnworth says. Range. American chestnut grew over a wide range in eastern North America. One fourth of this forest was composed of native chestnut trees. Before the early 1900s, the American chestnut was the predominant tree species in eastern forests. “By the time a white oak acorn has made a baseball bat, the chestnut stump has made a railroad tie,” one advocate boasted. Between 1946 and 1963 it grew arrow-straight and tall like an American chestnut, reaching 76 feet before succumbing to blight in 1976. The trees grow best when American chestnut tree nuts are sown directly in the ground (with the flat side or sprout facing down, half an inch to an inch (1-2.5 cm.) 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