The American Chestnut: past & future

Wednesday, May 3 at 6:30 pm

Less than 100 years ago eastern U.S. forests were dominated by large American chestnut trees. By the 1950s this population was reduced to short-lived stump sprouts. These trees reined over 200 million acres of eastern woodlands from Maine to Florida, and from the Piedmont west to the Ohio Valley, until succumbing to a lethal fungus disease, chestnut blight. An estimated 4 billion American chestnuts, one quarter of the hardwood tree population, grew within this range prior to the blight.

The blight, imported to the US on Asian chestnut trees, is a fungus and its spores are easily dispersed via air, raindrops or animals. It is a wound pathogen, entering through injuries to the tree’s bark. It spreads to the underlying vascular cambium and wood, killing these tissues as it advances. The flow of nutrients is eventually choked off to and from sections of the tree above the infection.

Join Wildlife Biologist, Curt Laffin, as he discusses the history and demise of this tree and promising efforts by the American Chestnut Foundation to restore it locally and throughout its historic range.

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