American Chestnut comes out of stasis

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Rand
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American Chestnut comes out of stasis

Post by Rand » Sat Jun 21, 2014 10:20 pm

So, in a fit of folly a number of years ago I planted 5 american chestnuts on heavy wet clay soil on dolomite bedrock. If anyone is familiar with the site preferences of american chestnut this would be the exact opposite of what they are supposed to like. Two succumbed within the first two years, a third was on a exposed SW exposure and was killed by a summer dry spell. After five years of ugly looking chlorosis and even uglier growth, the fourth got chewed off during the winter. Somehow this seemed to encourage it and it returned to normalish growth. The last one sat there in a state of staggering chloris and utterly glacial growth, 2"-3" per year, for -years-. Over the last 3 years it starting looking better, improved leaf color, better growth (~6"/yr), and with a terminal leader beginning to establish itself from its usual sickly sprawl.

This year--- whoosh!
_MG_8611.jpg
That would be about 5x the amount of foliage it ever mustered before. I've seen lots of trees struggle till they get to roughly that size, and put on a burst of growth, but I never expected that much. So how old would you guess this thing to be? 3-5 years just from the looks of it? 7-10 since I hinted at a long time? Try 22. The other one has grown fairly well, first bearing nuts in 2011 before getting frost defoiliated by the "summer in march" whipsaw of 2012 and taking two years to recover:
_MG_8614.jpg
So I guess the lesson here is to molly coddle the things with mulch, watering and rhododendron fertilizer for the first couple of years, and then they grow fine. The odd thing is my very old relatives say that American chestnut used to grow in that part of Ohio (comfortably outside all the range maps I've seen), but that the timber cruisers came through in the late 1800's, cut them all down for mine timbers to ship west and then they sorta disappeared after that. I dismissed this as here-say/confusion with another species at the time, but now I wonder. Given this difficulty reproducing, maybe an intensive harvest was enough to push them over the edge? Any thoughts?

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Lucas
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Re: American Chestnut comes out of stasis

Post by Lucas » Tue Jul 29, 2014 12:24 pm

I just planted some Am chestnuts this year outside their native range so it is good to know they hang in there when it is tough going.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

jclarke
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Re: American Chestnut comes out of stasis

Post by jclarke » Sat Feb 20, 2016 4:00 pm

I've got some at 46 degrees north too, also outside their range. I got my first nut this year, pollen from a 9 year old tree to pollinate my single.
They struggle this far north, take longer to get some size on them, but do flower and set seed. Seednuts from only a little south of here do the best.

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Rand
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Re: American Chestnut comes out of stasis

Post by Rand » Sat Feb 20, 2016 9:14 pm

FYI: The tree grew a similar amount last season as well. Doesn't look like a seedling anymore.

Joe

Re: American Chestnut comes out of stasis

Post by Joe » Sun Feb 21, 2016 6:31 am

jclarke wrote:I've got some at 46 degrees north too, also outside their range. I got my first nut this year, pollen from a 9 year old tree to pollinate my single.
They struggle this far north, take longer to get some size on them, but do flower and set seed. Seednuts from only a little south of here do the best.
Don't worry- the climate is rapidly moving north- so I'm sure that chestnut will soon be happy. :)
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jclarke
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Re: American Chestnut comes out of stasis

Post by jclarke » Sun Feb 21, 2016 7:36 am

Yes, you have a point, grin. Here, something to make your day...
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