Friday, March 29, 2013

American Chestnut Tree

Every year when I go hiking in the southern Appalachians I'll stumble upon some American chestnut trees. It's really not all that unusual to see some of the legendary trees--they often sprout to the surface from root systems that are still active.

The thing is, eventually, the invasive chestnut blight finds them and kills them back. Often before they can reach a large enough size to start bearing nuts. There are, of course, exceptions. To date, there have been no blight-resistant native chestnut trees found. They always get the blight, and they always die.

A few years ago I did stumble upon one that had gotten fairly large (by modern standards) and was producing nuts. (I looked, but all of the nuts were gone--just burrs were left). I need to go back to this one to see if it's still there.

American chestnut tree leaves.

Burr of American chestnut.
This tree was part of a really huge grove of little American chestnut trees that I hiked through at the Sherando Lake Recreation Area in Virginia. None of them were very big though--nothing over a few feet tall.

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