Mr. Fantasy (mrfantasy) wrote,
Mr. Fantasy

The chestnut blight

For some reason, I'm fascinated with the chestnut blight. What I find the most fascinating is that 100 years ago, the Eastern United States' forests looked completely different. Whenever someone is filming something that took place back then or earlier, and does outdoor shots, they're not right, becuase the forests should be full of chestnuts instead of the oaks, maples, poplars, pines, etc. that replaced them. I find it fascinating that entire industies (chestnuts were food, and for tanning leather as well) were decimated by someone bringing Asian chestnuts to New York in 1904,completely innocently. Even though the trees would die, the chestnut timber industry lingered for decades while dead trees were harvested, and "wormy chestnut" which is a popular decorative wood comes from these dead trees. They tried to stop it spread by clearing a swath of trees across the Appalachians but it was too late. By 1950 the American Chestnut was gone. But not gone because many of the roots still survive, growing up shoots every year that are killed by the blight. These are the ghosts of trees that once filled our world.

I like fhte fact that there's efforts to bring back the American chestnut. They're crossbreeding with the Asian chestnut to develop trees with American size and the Asian resistance, and this effort is expected to take another 50 years. That's planning. There's also work on a virus that infects the blight and makes it hypovirulent, which means the trees can survive the infection.

I want to plant trees. I want them to live. I want my kid to be surrounded by chestnuts when he walks the Applachian Trail, possibly with his kid. Wouldn't that be something?

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