Trees and their Stories #2
Today I want to share my American Chestnut photos. American Chestnuts are rare today, having almost been decimated by the Chestnut Blight in the early part of the 20th Century. The blight, a fungal disease, was introduced into this country on a Chinese Chestnut tree brought into the Bronx in 1904. By 1906, 98% of the chestnuts in the Bronx were infected.
Over 100 years ago there were 4 billion chestnut trees in the U.S., many of them in the northeastern states. Within 40 years the trees disappeared. The loss of the American Chestnut was devastating to U.S. economy. It was used for building, furniture, fencing, and the nuts were food for wildlife and humans alike.
These photos of an American Chestnut were taken a couple of years ago in Virginia. I was with a member of the American Chestnut Foundation who had learned of the existence of a couple of small American Chestnuts. The trees were small and are being watched carefully members of the ACF.
Last June I visited a friend in Belgium who had a European Chestnut on the property where she and her husband were living. There is a huge difference between what I saw there and what I saw in Virginia. This is a healthy group of three trees with new growth and abundant chestnuts on the ground.
The American Chestnut Foundation is making efforts and great strides to create a blight-resistant tree. Read about this here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_chestnut
In Virginia, the Blue Ridge Parkway has split rail fences, many of them of chestnut wood. Old homesteads were built of chestnut logs, and in my own childhood home, there was a room with wormy chestnut paneling, virtually non-existent today. What a loss.