Some things are just beyond our meager understanding. For a whole population of Chestnut trees to die off is very sad, but at least we do know the cause!
The chestnut blight is a devastating disease that has struck the American chestnut tree and caused the mass extinction of the tree from its historic range in the eastern United States. The disease was accidentally introduced to North America around 1900, either through imported chestnut lumber or through imported chestnut trees. By 1940, almost all of the American chestnut trees were gone. These marvelous trees once grew as tall as 200 feet (61 meters), with a trunk diameter of 14 feet (4.2 meters).
The chestnut tree is known to grow beautiful flowers in late spring or early summer. The blight was caused by the C. parasitica and destroyed about 4 billion American chestnut trees. The fungus kills the tree by entering beneath the bark and killing the cambium all the way round the twig, branch, or trunk. After the blight was first discovered, people attempted to remove the effected trees from the forests, but this proved to be an ineffective solution.
The largest remaining forest of American chestnut trees is named Chestnut Hills and sits near West Salem, Wisconsin. Chestnut Hills holds approximately 2,500 chestnut trees on 60 acres of land. The chestnuts are the descendants from only a dozen trees planted by Martin Hicks in the late 1800s. The trees are located to the west of the natural range of American chestnut, so they initially escaped the onslaught of the chestnut blight. However in 1987, scientists found the fungus in the trees and the blight has been slowly killing the forest. Scientists are working to try and save Chestnut Hills, as there is a strong desire to bring the American chestnut back to the forest.
A large collection of surviving chestnut’s are being bred for a resistance to the blight by The American Chestnut Foundation, which aims to reintroduce a blight-resistant American chestnut to its original forest range in the early 21st century. The disease is local to a range, so it is possible for some isolated trees to exist if no other chestnuts with the blight are within 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). A small stand of surviving American chestnuts was found in F. D. Roosevelt State Park near Warm Springs, Georgia on April 22, 2006.
I have to thank the fine folks over at Listverse.com for all this information. Very interesting place, for sure!
Let's have our coffee in the kitchen again this morning. Much too hot to have it out on the patio!