I remember walking through the hiking trails near my house when I was a kid and my dad showing me the American Chestnut saplings in the forest. I remember him telling me about the disease that wrought the destruction of this iconic plant. And I remember feeling a bit sorry for the sapling doomed to repeat it’s cycle of untimely death and rebirth.
The American Chestnut Trees (Castanea dentata) once reigned proudly amongst the tallest old growth trees … until the Asian Bark Fungus – or the Chestnut Blight (Cryphonectria parasitica) took its toll. Since then, the Chestnut Blight unjustly relegated the American Chestnut to the understory.
Trees with the blight never get much bigger than saplings and the American chestnuts that used to litter the forest floor can no longer be found.
However, with some tricky engineering, the American Chestnut might see the light of the forest canopy once more.