The Blight of the American Chestnut Tree

The American Chestnut once flourished from Maine to Florida and east to the Mississippi River. At the turn of the century a Chinese Chestnut was introduced into the United States.  Unbeknown to the botanist of the times. The new introduced trees harbored an asian fungus, (Cryphonectria parasitica) which was deadly to the native American Chestnut trees. 

The first signs of the disease were discovered in 1904.  The fungus spread quickly and was soon to be known as the American Chestnut blight.   The native chestnut trees had little to no resistance to the blight and billions of trees feel victim to the disease. By the 1950’s all but a flew stands remained. 

The remaining trees may have natural resistances to the blight and possibly holds the key to the future survival of this species as a whole. Also, through genetic engineering and selective cross breeding, perhaps we may one day see the America Chestnut, along with other native plant species restored to the northeast and other parts of the United States.

Ten years ago the Northeast Ecological Recovery Society planted some 20 American Chestnut trees on private land in the Adirondacks of New York.  All of these trees were derived from seedlings from Minnesota, and have shown some resistance to the blight.

We hope that these trees will help in the restoration of this native tree for future generations to come.

In honor of the concept of the Seventh Generation, NERS continues its work in the restoration of native species to the northeast.

The First Law of Ecology is: Complexity brings forth stability.

These trees were planted in honor of Joseph Butera’s father, who was a strong environmentalist. He believed that all things were put here for a reason, and that we should all be stewards of the land. 

“Teach a person to plant an apple seed and they will learn more than what grows from its branches.” 
                       by Joe Butera

copyright © 2005 northeast ecological recovery society, inc. all rights reserved.