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Restoration of the American Chestnut has been a project for decades. It started almost immediately after the chestnut blight destroyed one of the most valuable trees on the continent and has continued ever since with some success in the recent past. There have been several different ways attempted to achieve a blight resistant chestnut tree.

1) Chinese- American crosses have some blight resistant but depending on the level of Chinese genetics may not have the characteristics of the American chestnut. We now have crosses that are very close to 100% American chestnut but still have a little bit of Chinese in them.

2) Some native American chestnuts have demonstrated differing levels of blight resistance. Those have been bred with a brute force approach- plant as many trees as you can, wait until they are sapling size and innoculate them with blight spores. Those that survive become the next generation. This is the longest running program but is hampered because even trees with little resistance will often live 5-10 years before succumbing to the blight. That means this is a very slow process.

3) A more recent development has been attempting to identify blight resistance in the DNA and either insert those genes chestnut to chestnut or insert genes from other trees into the chestnut. This has great promise but again, because of the time involved to determine survival hasn't yet yielded proven results.

I recently received 8 seedlings which are from native stock without crossing or genetic modification. I planted yesterday in two rows of four trees- 20' between the rows and 10' between the trees in the row. If all goes well, they will survive long enough to yield honest to goodness American chestnuts. The person working with breeding the trees said they MIGHT survive 15-30 years. If they make it 15, I will be very, very happy. If they make it 30, I might not be around to know it but in any case, it will be an interesting experiment. With ash trees now on the decline, it would be awesome of the true American chestnut could once again be a viable tree.

Treefarmer
 

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Chestnuts! AAAARRRRRRGGGG! :)

I have a huge Chestnut tree in the yard and I sort of wish it was cut down. It is a year-round mess. First you clean up those long fuzzy things that look like pipe cleaners (the dust from them gets on EVERYTHING). Then you clean up the chestnuts as they fall else you will twist an ankle. Then you endlessly clean up the spiny hulls which take like 6-8 weeks to fully drop and stick to the grass like velcro. And then finally you get to clean up the fallen leaves. And let's not forget the sticks and twiggs that fall down every time the wind blows.

I just finished cleaning up what I hope is the last of the spiny hulls.

Using one of these is soooooooooooooooo tempting. :)

 

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Discussion Starter #3
If it's an American chestnut

Chestnuts! AAAARRRRRRGGGG! :)

I have a huge Chestnut tree in the yard and I sort of wish it was cut down. It is a year-round mess. First you clean up those long fuzzy things that look like pipe cleaners (the dust from them gets on EVERYTHING). Then you clean up the chestnuts as they fall else you will twist an ankle. Then you endlessly clean up the spiny hulls which take like 6-8 weeks to fully drop and stick to the grass like velcro. And then finally you get to clean up the fallen leaves. And let's not forget the sticks and twiggs that fall down every time the wind blows.

I just finished cleaning up what I hope is the last of the spiny hulls.

Using one of these is soooooooooooooooo tempting. :)

If it's a true American Chestnut tree, please do not cut it down. Instead contact the American Chestnut Foundation Saving the American Chestnut Tree | The American Chestnut Foundation and ask them to please take a look at your tree. It could be extremely valuable to the long term survival of the American Chestnut.

If it's a Chinese chestnut, cut or don't cut as suits you. Those are not in danger.

Treefarmer
 

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If it's a true American Chestnut tree, please do not cut it down. Instead contact the American Chestnut Foundation Saving the American Chestnut Tree | The American Chestnut Foundation and ask them to please take a look at your tree. It could be extremely valuable to the long term survival of the American Chestnut.

If it's a Chinese chestnut, cut or don't cut as suits you. Those are not in danger.

Treefarmer
We had two of those "horse Chestnut" trees back when I was a kid down the street, they were old but not a big tree at all, small like dwarf trees but produced those spiny nuts that when thrown at someone (we were kids) they stuck right into them!! Stay the heck out of our tree house!.. I've worked on old houses that used Chestnut and to me they were the hardest homes to deal with,, you had to drill large timbers just to get an attachment into them.. Great lumber and I hope it does come back, it will not be in my lifetime but my hat off to you for helping get them back. Jeff
 

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Amazing lumber

We had two of those "horse Chestnut" trees back when I was a kid down the street, they were old but not a big tree at all, small like dwarf trees but produced those spiny nuts that when thrown at someone (we were kids) they stuck right into them!! Stay the heck out of our tree house!.. I've worked on old houses that used Chestnut and to me they were the hardest homes to deal with,, you had to drill large timbers just to get an attachment into them.. Great lumber and I hope it does come back, it will not be in my lifetime but my hat off to you for helping get them back. Jeff
It is amazing lumber- rot and bug resistant and reportedly easy to work until it fully dries. Like you, all I've seen is very old and very hard but supposedly it was a very easy working wood when freshly milled.

I do know that in my grandparents house when we went to replace a sill, we found that termites had eaten the sill and some studing but had not touched the chestnut corner posts at all. I've seen split rail fences that were built in the 1940's with rails that are still sound almost 80 years later. Restoration won't be in my lifetime either but then much of what I do growing trees isn't for me. My father and grandfather planted trees that are being harvested now so I can only hope to do the same for future generations. I might see harvest of pine trees planted now but not hardwoods. It will be enough to watch them grow. . .

Treefarmer
 
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