The American Chestnut

Hmerkle

Hank
Corporate Member
A friend posted this on FB December 22nd.
I found it interesting and thought I would share it here.
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
1f3b6.png
...You’ve heard the song, but did people actually roast chestnuts during the holiday season in the past? And where did they get chestnuts?
To answer this, you have to understand that the forests of Appalachia and the surrounding Piedmont looked very different just 120 years ago. It’s hard to comprehend, but in the year 1900, roughly 1 out of every 5 trees was an American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) in some parts of the Appalachian Mountains and other parts of the Eastern United States. The trees could be massive as well, growing to over 100 feet tall and with a diameter greater than 5 feet. Each fall, these native trees produced large numbers of chestnuts that fed wildlife, livestock, and people too. The chestnuts were often roasted during the holidays, hence the well-known song. A single tree would often yield thousands of chestnuts! The rot-resistant wood was used to make furniture and build log cabins.
Today, the American Chestnut is functionally extinct. Why? In 1904, the Asian Chestnut Blight (Cryphonectria parasitica) was introduced to New York City. The fungus quickly spread across the eastern United States and by 1950 all that remained across most of the chestnut’s range were dead snags. The fungus does not kill the roots, though, so you can still find young chestnut trees sprouting up from the roots of these former giants. Unfortunately, these young trees eventually succumb to the Asian Chestnut Blight, so you won’t find a large, reproductively mature American Chestnut in their former range today. Some American Chestnuts reach reproductive maturity, but they rarely get taller than 25 feet before dying from the blight. See the link in the comments on a larger American Chestnut recently found in Delaware.
But all hope is not lost. The American Chestnut Foundation (TCAF) in Asheville, NC and several universities are working to develop a variety that is resistant to the blight. See the link below to learn more about their efforts to restore this once abundant tree in its former range. (these links were not included in her article) I also included links for two recent discoveries of large (by today’s standards) American Chestnut trees in Delaware and Georgia. If you have a large chestnut tree growing on your property today, it’s likely a Chinese Chestnut, Castanea mollissima.

Here is a link to TCAF: Contact Us | The American Chestnut Foundation | Asheville, NC
Here is a link to an article in the New Georgia Encyclopedia : https://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/geography-environment/american-chestnut/ (Please note the author, he MUST be smart!)

Here are some pictures that were in the FB post
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1640402243218.png
1640402253845.png
 

KenOfCary

Ken
Staff member
Corporate Member
In this area of SWVA the Chinese Chestnut trees are call Chinquapin, also know as Dwarf Chestnut. We have one growing near the end of the driveway (about 7 feet tall) currently producing fruit.
 

sawman101

Bruce Swanson
Corporate Member
50 years ago there were still the remnants of many miles of woven rail fences crisscrossing the landscapes of Appalachia--it's my understanding the chestnut logs split straight, and also being rot resistant, it was the ideal fence material. We have also lost the majestic elms, and beech is dying out also. It's amazing how much our environment has suffered from diseases and pests introduced from foreign lands--what will be next?
 

MGT

Mike
User
50 years ago there were still the remnants of many miles of woven rail fences crisscrossing the landscapes of Appalachia--it's my understanding the chestnut logs split straight, and also being rot resistant, it was the ideal fence material. We have also lost the majestic elms, and beech is dying out also. It's amazing how much our environment has suffered from diseases and pests introduced from foreign lands--what will be next?
My hometown in Minnesota used to have a beautiful street with giant elms growing on both sides of the street. The trees were large enough it looked a bit like a tunnel when you were driving through. Now it is just another boring street.
 

Dreuxgrad

Ed
Senior User
50 years ago there were still the remnants of many miles of woven rail fences crisscrossing the landscapes of Appalachia--it's my understanding the chestnut logs split straight, and also being rot resistant, it was the ideal fence material. We have also lost the majestic elms, and beech is dying out also. It's amazing how much our environment has suffered from diseases and pests introduced from foreign lands--what will be next?
Ash
 

gritz

Robert
Senior User
50 years ago there were still the remnants of many miles of woven rail fences crisscrossing the landscapes of Appalachia--it's my understanding the chestnut logs split straight, and also being rot resistant, it was the ideal fence material. We have also lost the majestic elms, and beech is dying out also. It's amazing how much our environment has suffered from diseases and pests introduced from foreign lands--what will be next?
Chestnut Oaks around me are dying. We have lost one nearly every year.
 

Echd

C
User
Any ash I purchase nowadays, you are almost guaranteed to see the traces of borer activity on the surface.
 

Linc H

Linc
User
A friend posted this on FB December 22nd.
I found it interesting and thought I would share it here.
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
1f3b6.png
...You’ve heard the song, but did people actually roast chestnuts during the holiday season in the past? And where did they get chestnuts?
To answer this, you have to understand that the forests of Appalachia and the surrounding Piedmont looked very different just 120 years ago. It’s hard to comprehend, but in the year 1900, roughly 1 out of every 5 trees was an American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) in some parts of the Appalachian Mountains and other parts of the Eastern United States. The trees could be massive as well, growing to over 100 feet tall and with a diameter greater than 5 feet. Each fall, these native trees produced large numbers of chestnuts that fed wildlife, livestock, and people too. The chestnuts were often roasted during the holidays, hence the well-known song. A single tree would often yield thousands of chestnuts! The rot-resistant wood was used to make furniture and build log cabins.
Today, the American Chestnut is functionally extinct. Why? In 1904, the Asian Chestnut Blight (Cryphonectria parasitica) was introduced to New York City. The fungus quickly spread across the eastern United States and by 1950 all that remained across most of the chestnut’s range were dead snags. The fungus does not kill the roots, though, so you can still find young chestnut trees sprouting up from the roots of these former giants. Unfortunately, these young trees eventually succumb to the Asian Chestnut Blight, so you won’t find a large, reproductively mature American Chestnut in their former range today. Some American Chestnuts reach reproductive maturity, but they rarely get taller than 25 feet before dying from the blight. See the link in the comments on a larger American Chestnut recently found in Delaware.
But all hope is not lost. The American Chestnut Foundation (TCAF) in Asheville, NC and several universities are working to develop a variety that is resistant to the blight. See the link below to learn more about their efforts to restore this once abundant tree in its former range. (these links were not included in her article) I also included links for two recent discoveries of large (by today’s standards) American Chestnut trees in Delaware and Georgia. If you have a large chestnut tree growing on your property today, it’s likely a Chinese Chestnut, Castanea mollissima.

Here is a link to TCAF: Contact Us | The American Chestnut Foundation | Asheville, NC
Here is a link to an article in the New Georgia Encyclopedia : https://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/geography-environment/american-chestnut/ (Please note the author, he MUST be smart!)

Here are some pictures that were in the FB post
View attachment 207118View attachment 207119View attachment 207120
Hank you inspired me to go buy some chestnuts and actually roast them over an open fire. So I did, some burnt, others were very tasty. Very interesting info you shared. Really appreciate the insight. Happy New Year to you and your family.
 

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