The American Chestnut-A tragic tale

Posted on 10. Jun, 2011 by in World of Wonder, WOW! Blog

Talk about being a “tree hugger”, I get weepy just thinking about the story of the American Chestnut. The blight that killed the American chestnut created what has been referred to as the greatest tragedy to hit the mountains of Western North Carolina.  The American chestnut was not only an amazing source of food for local wildlife, people and livestock, it was also incredibly durable when used for construction purposes.  A prime example of its durability stands at the top of Craggy Gardens bald on the Blue Ridge Parkway, where a shelter made of sturdy American chestnut beams has survived the harsh mountaintop elements for close to a century.  The American chestnut was also a valuable resource to the tanning industry due to its high tanning content.


I wish I could have seen one of those trees or a forest of them in their prime. Instead, I see old stumps with a few shoots coming up with the strong likelihood that they will be killed back by the blight.


There are efforts underway to restore the Chestnut to our forests by genetic modification. That gives me hope and the desire for a long life so I can see one of these magnificent trees spreading wide.


I collected some articles about the American Chestnut for your information. Also the poem by Longfellow with the opening line “Under the spreading Chestnut tree the village smithy stands”.


An article from 1915 that describes the Chestnut at that time.

From Duke University’s website, a useful article about Chestnuts.

From UNC-Asheville’s website.

An article about the effort to restore the Chestnut through genetic modification.

The Poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow -The Village Blacksmith

The American Chestnut on Charlotte Tallks- June 13, 2011



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