Sunday, November 21, 2010

Not Quite Gone

Every once in a while in my hikes around the southern Appalachians I'll happen upon a tree that I suspect is an American chestnut. Contrary to popular belief, the species is not quite extinct. Occasionally one will be found in some isolated place. This was one that I found near in the Pisgah National Forest along the crest of a high mountain--somewhere between 4,500 and 5,000 feet above sea level. The photo of the seed burr was on a part of the tree that was dead...but not because of blight, but because a bit of the tree had been snapped partially off either in a high wind or when a large branch fell from another tree and broke it. The main part of the tree was full and healthy.

Since my tree knowledge is horrible, I'm not always sure what I'm looking at. I could remedy this by taking a few classes at a local college or finding a study partner. My own ability to learn this stuff is a lost cause. Outside of my writing, I don't have the discipline to teach myself such things--my mind constantly wanders. It's at times like finding this tree that I regret not paying attention to my dad when we'd go hiking in the woods when I was a kid. He knew every tree we'd see. It didn't matter if we were in the low country or in the mountains--he knew them all. He'd point out a tree, tell me how to identify it, and the information would go into one ear and quickly out the other.


Seed burr on part of the tree that had snapped off some time before.

Shot of the leaves on the majority of the tree that was intact and, apparently, healthy.

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