Sunday, May 21, 2006

An Old Chestnut

Chestnut TreeStand of Surviving Chestnuts May Hold the Key to a Recovery:
A stand of American chestnut trees that somehow escaped a blight that killed off nearly all their kind in the early 1900's has been discovered along a hiking trail near Warm Springs.

The find has stirred excitement among those working to restore the American chestnut, and raises hopes that scientists may be able to use the trees' pollen to breed hardier chestnut trees.
The American Chestnut was a widespread tree and by all accounts a beautiful one. A fungal disease, probably imported accidentally from Asia, destroyed most of the trees. It kills them as they reach maturity, and swept through what had been one of the most common American trees.
Since then, the population has been maintained with occasional sprouts from old chestnuts and hybrids between American chestnuts and the Asian species which is resistant to the fungus. Finding a naturally resistant American chestnut would save this species in its native form.

Here's hoping.