Jun. 17, 2022

American chestnut, Castanea dentata

Archeological records tell us that American chestnut originally grew in a relatively limited range in and near the Appalachian Mountains. Then over the last two millennia the range expanded through human commerce, ultimately reaching the Pacific Coast. Around 25% of the trees in eastern forests were chestnuts. And then human commerce destroyed them. A disease imported with some Asian trees infected and killed almost all of our chestnuts. Now growers are trying various strategies of cross breeding, inbreeding, gene transfer and infecting the infection in order to bring back chestnuts. Success is limited, but one or more of those strategies is apparently protecting this tree in southern Ohio. So here's a look at what we've been missing. This tree was festooned with these six-inch staminate flower spikes. We think of chestnuts and mostly miss the nuts. Turns out the flowers were a treasure too. American chestnuts have mostly historically been reported from AL, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT, WI, WV, and ON. Sciotto Co OH, 6/11/22. Beech family, Fagaceae.