American chestnut

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edfrank
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Re: American chestnut

Post by edfrank » Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:19 am

ENTS,

In some areas of Allegheny National Forest, the dominant tree species in the understory is American Chestnut, but virtually no trees are surviving the blight long enough to produce flowers or nuts. There are lots of plants - but little pollen is being produced. Where there are mature trees here that are producing flowers, there is so little pollen available that they are not producing viable nuts without artificial pollination. In a forest planting the hybrid species would be grouped together so they could cross-pollinate each other. I doubt there would be many cases of "front-pollination"because of the lack of native American chestnut pollen and if there were those trees that did not contain the blight resistant gene would likely not survive to produce the next generation. The ACCF naturally resistant chestnuts would face pretty much the same situation with their plantings.

In both cases the presence of native non-resistant pollen producing trees would potentially cross with the plantings, but in most areas I would not think there would be enough of those trees to change the overall dynamics. I believe in the case of the crosses with Chinese chestnuts that it is a single allele that contains the resistant properties. So either it is there or it isn't. It would not be subject to dilution. I am not sure about how the genetics of the native resistance is structured - or whether it could be potentially diluted by mixing with non-resistant strains or not. There is literature about this, I just am not familiar with what it says (or can't follow what it says).

Ed
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"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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Rand
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Re: American chestnut

Post by Rand » Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:24 pm

I have some american and Chinese chestnuts planted in NW ohio. They are both approaching 20 years old.

Despite the clay soil and limestone bedrock (both no-nos for american chestnuts) one is doing quite well:
_MG_5996_2.jpg
And one not so well:
_MG_6002_2.jpg
Chinese is doing slightly better than the american.
_MG_5997_2.jpg
For the last 3 seasons they have been mature enough to bear nuts, and lo and behold one took:
_MG_5995.jpg

Joe

Re: American chestnut

Post by Joe » Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:20 am

I read somewhere- cant' remember where- and I do find it hard to believe, but maybe it's true, that in pre pale face days, chestnut made up half the trees of the Applachian region!
Joe

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jamesrobertsmith
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Re: American chestnut

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:37 am

Joe wrote:I read somewhere- cant' remember where- and I do find it hard to believe, but maybe it's true, that in pre pale face days, chestnut made up half the trees of the Applachian region!
Joe
I've read that, too. Also, that when the trees were in full bloom, the Appalachian peaks looked from a distance as if they were dusted in snow.

Joe

Re: American chestnut

Post by Joe » Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:49 am

jamesrobertsmith wrote:
Joe wrote:I read somewhere- cant' remember where- and I do find it hard to believe, but maybe it's true, that in pre pale face days, chestnut made up half the trees of the Applachian region!
Joe
I've read that, too. Also, that when the trees were in full bloom, the Appalachian peaks looked from a distance as if they were dusted in snow.
oh, I never gave a thought to what the flowers look like- anyone have pictures of those?

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Rand
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Re: American chestnut

Post by Rand » Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:59 am

Heres a couple shamelessly ripped off the accf website:
2-MilesRuth.jpg
1-Jenny.jpg

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Rand
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Re: American chestnut

Post by Rand » Tue Jun 14, 2011 9:43 pm

Here's some chestnut sprouts growing in a regenerating clearcut in Tar Hallow State Forest. There are 7-8 of them clustered in 1 acre area near the bottom of a south facing slope. Their main competition seems to be tulip tree, sassafras, tupelo, and sourwood; with a smattering of black cherry and red maples. The slopes above the grove are gradually taken over over with red, white and chestnut oaks, with a few hickories.

I've been keeping the competition away for ~ 8 seasons now hoping I'd get some nuts off of them before the inevitable occurred.
(cue scawy musak)....
They made it up to 3 seasons ago before the blight showed up. First season there were a few small cankers. Second season there were more, with the trees seeming to wall off a few with callous. This year the blight finally won (It's been a very wet spring) killing off major portions of most of them:
_MG_6016_2.jpg
6014-15-merged.JPG
6017-18-merged.JPG
However there are two sprouts that are inexplicably blight free. So perhaps there is still hope.
_MG_6003.jpg
_MG_6021_2.jpg
I've cut down all the competing saplings, and the trees are sprouting abundantly so they'll take another run at it. The only question is when the DEA will show up and wonder what the heck is going on. ('All we found is bunch of half-dead, funny looking trees...')

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jamesrobertsmith
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Re: American chestnut

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Tue Jun 14, 2011 9:51 pm

When I was about 13 years old my dad found a relatively large American chestnut along the Doll Mountain Road leading down to then as-yet-unfilled Carter's Lake in north Georgia. We watched it for a season and it bore a very large amount of chestnuts. My dad harvested these, sending some to the University of Georgia along with directions to the tree (from whom he got absolutely no response). He ate some of them. I may or may not have eaten some also...genuinely, I don't recall, but I must have. About three years after he found the tree, it had gotten the blight and died. As I recall, it was about thirty feet tall. I don't remember much else about it other than my dad making sure I saw the leaves and burrs and remembered how to ID the tree again if ever I should happen across one.

I will assume (correct me if I'm wrong) that there must have been some other chestnuts nearby if it bore fruit. We just never found them, despite hiking around the vicinity looking for more.

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Rand
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Re: American chestnut

Post by Rand » Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:06 pm

jamesrobertsmith wrote: I will assume (correct me if I'm wrong) that there must have been some other chestnuts nearby if it bore fruit. We just never found them, despite hiking around the vicinity looking for more.
I've read that abundant nut production requires another tree with 200' feet or so. Finding another small tree in the woods can be a real bear. I've found the best time to look for chestnuts is the tail end of leaf drop, when the oaks are just starting to turn, the chestnuts will be still be green, making them really stand out.

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Rand
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Re: American chestnut

Post by Rand » Tue Sep 03, 2013 6:39 pm

Update on the Tar Hollow chestnuts. All but one of the chestnuts I posted previously have died back to the roots and resprouted. The best have grown 4'-5' feet for the last two seasons, so they'll be back where they started in another two years or so.


However there is a second clearcut I finally got back to. It was cut three years younger than the other and now has a couple of promising looking trees:

Yeah, that's a good 2' of growth this year
Yeah, that's a good 2' of growth this year
C-T2.jpg
Squinting closer. Yes there are nuts on that thing!
CT2-nut.jpg
However this tree does have several cankers on it. It appears the blight is temporarily contained, evidenced by the swelling around the canker margins. The previous trees did this too, to a certain extent, but it didn't hold . According to the ACF literature, cool summers favor the trees over the blight. 2011 & 2013 have both been fairly cool and wet here in central Ohio, so it might just be a quirk of the weather that is allow these trees to stay ahead (2010 had a hot dry spell).
C-c1.jpg
C-c2.jpg

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