Not many in this country have ever even seen an American Chestnut and far, far fewer remember when this remarkable tree could be seen as an integral part of the Eastern forest—well more than 25% of hardwoods in parts of the Appalachian Mountains. The invasive Chestnut Blight came to us accidentally from China and began its devastation in the early 1900s, It was fast and quite thorough in its spread. A number of trees remain, isolated and/or somewhat resistant, and these have formed the backbone of cross-breeding and restoration efforts conducted by the American Chestnut Foundation.
Two years ago I planted a second so there could be cross-pollination, essential to nut production. I’m thrilled that both trees are still doing well—they will always be susceptible to blight—and both are flowering! Nuts could be in my future!!
A recent book, The Homing Instinct, by one of my favorite naturalist authors, Bernd Heinrich, has a remarkable chapter about the American Chestnut. How do trees fit into a book about “homing instinct?” I suggest you pick up a copy of this excellent book and discover the answer for yourself!
I can assure readers I’ll keep you informed if these two trees in my yard make nuts!
Also, I’m thrilled to report about a hundred people came to the opening of the show yesterday at the Governor’s Gallery. The photographs looked even better than I could have imagined hanging on the walls of a room full of people who were enjoying them. The whole thing is so satisfying.