Still Learning To See

A Tree from a Dream


Several years ago my young friend Earl showed me two of the surviving American Chestnuts in Central Vermont. Unfortunately these trees have recently shown signs of having blight.

In the early part of the 20th Century the American Chestnut was considered the most valuable tree species east of the Mississippi River, esteemed for both the timber and the crop of nuts it produced. A fungal blight arriving at that time quickly killed millions of these remarkable trees. Some still survive mostly in isolated pockets, including a few near Montpelier in two locations, though one group has recently succumbed to the blight. Several years ago I planted two trees—offspring of local trees—in the yard that have thrived, flowered and borne nuts for the past several years.


The American Chestnut is a beautiful tree that many have never seen so I wanted to share several photographs of them. The long, delicate leaves resemble American Beech since they are in the same family.



The female flowers form at the base of the catkins later in the season, visible here on the left side.

As summer heats up the male flowers form and grow into stunning, long white plumes covered with bees and other insects on a sunny day.


The nuts develop in a formidable husk which you dare not even pick up without gloves but which also opens when ripe to reveal a treasure of nuts inside.

Fall brings not only the crop of mast but a glory of rich brown leaves.


A delight of this summer was the discovery by a neighbor that the tree had produced an offspring which sprouted up in her garden. There are no guarantees either the parents or the child will escape the fate of the blight, but for now they are a delight I enjoy seeing throughout the year. This little tree really is a dream come true!


This entry was published on August 6, 2018 at 3:53 pm. It’s filed under John Snell, John Snell Photographer, Leaves, Photograph, Vermont, and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “A Tree from a Dream

  1. What an interesting post! Will keep fingers crossed that your trees survive.

  2. Dianne Shullenberger on said:

    So interesting and informative. The pictures of the nuts look like strange animals. D

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