The Chestnut blight fungus, introduced from Europe early in the 20th century, has completely removed the American Chestnut as a primary forest species in the eastern US. The loss has had a devastating effect on eastern wild landscapes. But there's an amazing story of hope for natural Chestnut recovery. The fungus that attacks the trees kills only the growth above ground, and does not kill the roots. The American Chestnut is able to re-sprout new growth from the roots, and many such sprouts continue to thrive in the understory of the eastern woods. Some of these trees' root systems have lived more than a century in this diminished state and show no signs of giving up. When they are exposed to sunlight, they can even grow large enough to flower and produce viable seed (the delicious chestnut) before the Chestnut blight fungus attacks and kills it back.
The grounds of the Cloister at Three Creeks has at least half a dozen of such sprouting chestnut trees in the forest understory, and here PJ discusses plans to give them a little human assistance in growing to the size where they can produce seed. Every seed produced is one more chance that American Chestnut will evolve natural blight resistance. It may take centuries, but nature does not work on human time scales. This is the story of hope and recovery that PJ presents.
Video Uploaded for PJ Wetzel by F.I.T. Wilderness, VLC
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