The American Chestnut is a remarkable tree species. Many have never heard of it and few have seen them growing majestically in the wild, giants that they were. A highly infectious fungal blight was introduced into the United States in the early 1900s and quickly decimated an estimated four billion of the trees.
A few pockets of the native stock have survived, perhaps due to resistance but more likely due to isolation, and many of the “dead” tree continue to sprout and even flower and produce nuts but thus far all seem to succumb in time. Efforts are being made on many fronts to bread resistant trees, primarily by the American Chestnut Foundation and several universities.
The gold? In days past the wood and the nuts were both of immense value. Today, the leaves in fall are stunningly beautiful. Truly as valuable as gold to my eyes!
If you can find room—and really who cannot!—consider planting a couple American Chestnut trees in your yard or neighborhood or town! The Foundation has them as do many local nurseries. I have planted two and they are just beautiful at all times of the year and after only six years produce quite a few nuts.
There will be more gold to discover in the next weeks as the Tamarack put on their fall colors! Stay tuned.