If you were to go for a stroll through the forests of New England around two hundred years ago you would have seen many of the same trees you see today, such as oak trees and maple trees. But there is one tree you would have seen back then that you don’t see much of now and that’s the American chestnut tree. The American chestnut tree was a staple of New England, as they were one of the most prominent hardwood trees found in the area, but this all changed around the 1900’s when a fungus known as chestnut blight appeared and began to decimate the American chestnut population. Chestnut blight most likely originated from Japanese chestnut trees that were brought to the United States around 1876, and within a relatively short amount of time this blight had all but eliminated the mighty American chestnut tree from our forests. But according to an article published in Nature Journal there may be hope for these fallen giants after all.
The article states that there has been an ongoing effort to cross breed the American chestnut tree with Chinese and Japanese chestnut trees in hopes that they can create a tree that maintains the appearance of an American chestnut tree but that also has the blight resistance of its Chinese and Japanese relatives. The result of this cross breeding is a new crop of what they’re calling the “restoration chestnut” which is a chestnut tree that is 96% American and 6% Chinese chestnut tree, that shows a strong resistance to the blight. For a tree lover like me this is very encouraging news, and who knows maybe two hundred years from now people will be hiking through the forests of new England and instead of seeing a forest filled with oaks and maples maybe they’ll see a forest filled with chestnuts.
David Rains, Group C