A Rare Find

Some time ago I wrote about the near extinction of the American Chestnut during the first half of the 20th century thanks to the Chestnut blight brought over from China.

Yet the roots of the old trees live on and send up saplings. The little trees might grow to 20 feet or so before the blight kills them. They rarely live long enough to produce fruit.

I’ve seen hundreds of these saplings in my life, they are quite common, a testament to just how ubiquitous these massive trees were, but never one bearing nuts.

Until yesterday:

A closer look:

I wish I could say something about hope here, but this little tree is just an early bloomer which is bound to die in the next few years. Hope for the American Chestnut now lies with efforts to breed a disease resistant strain, possibly with the help of genetic modification, which is hardy and genetically diverse enough for mass planting. There have been great advances in just the last two years, but the return of a reproducing population of the American Chestnut to the wild is still probably 20 or 30 years away.


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