25 August 2009

American chestnut tree with chestnut blight

The American chestnut (Castanea dentata) was once one of the dominant trees of eastern North American forests. A bark fungus (Cryphonectria parasitica), the causative agent of a disease known as chestnut blight and accidentally introduced into North America from Asia early in the 20th century, almost caused the tree become extinct. The species still survives, however, and there are now efforts to breed trees more resistant to the killer fungus.

I photographed this American chestnut tree suffering from blight in Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg, Maryland about 10 days ago.


This is what the sign says.


Apparently, chestnut blight kills the main trunk, but the roots survive and new shoots often sprout from around the roots. That was exactly what was happening in this case.


EcoRover said...

I enjoy your blog about various conservation biology etc issues. I grew up in the Alleghenies with dead chestnut lying on the ridges--it was our favorite firewood. The old farmers said a chestnut fencepost "lasts one year longer than stone." Sad that we've lost them, and I know hear that beech are being wiped out by some exotic pathogen? Here in the West, an introduced blister rust is killing a lot of our whitebark pines. Where will this end?

xoggoth said...

They do that. We have a dead plum trunk in our garden but the shoots keep popping up all around.

On subject of tree survival, this pine is growing on a bare outcrop of rock and survives by throwing out 25 foot roots.