PHILADELPHIA REFLECTIONS
Musings of a Philadelphia Physician who has served the community for six decades

Return to Home

Related Topics

Philadelphia's River Region
A concentration of articles around the rivers and wetland in and around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Quakers: All Alike, All Different
Quaker doctrines emerge from the stories they tell about each other.

Science
Science

Nature Preservation
Nature preservation and nature destruction are different parts of an eternal process.

Volunteerism
The characteristic American behavior called volunteerism got its start with Benjamin Franklin's Junto, and has been a source of comment by foreign visitors ever since. It's still a very active force.

Gardens Flowers and Horticulture
Gardening, flowers and the Flower Show are central to the social fabric of Philadelphia.

Chester County, Pennsylvania
Chester was an original county of Pennsylvania, one of the largest until Dauphin, Lancaster and Delaware counties were split off. Because the boundaries mainly did not follow rivers or other natural dividers, translating verbal boundaries into actual lines was highly contentious.

Delaware County, Pennsylvania
.

Natural Science
foo

Central Pennsylvania
"Alabama in-between," snickered James Carville, "Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Alabama in-between."

Right Angle Club 2012
This ends the ninetieth year for the club operating under the name of the Right Angle Club of Philadelphia. Before that, and for an unknown period, it was known as the Philadelphia Chapter of the Exchange Club. www.philadelphia-reflections.com/topic/175.htm

American Chestnut Trees

{American Chestnut tree}
American Chestnut tree

RECENTLY, John Wenderoth of the Tyler Arboretum visited the Right Angle Club of Philadelphia, bringing an astounding account of the triumph, near-extinction, and revival of the American Chestnut tree. The Tyler Arboretum, and this man in particular, is at the center of the movement to rescue the tree, although the modern Johnny Appleseeds of the movement seem to be a Central Pennsylvanian named Bob Leffel, and a geneticist named Charles Burnham. Together, they had the vision and drive to enlist a thousand volunteers to plant seedlings in Pennsylvania; and there are many other volunteer groups in other states within Appalachia. About 45,000 Chestnut hybrids have been planted, surrounded by wire fencing to protect the new trees until they grow too tall for deer to reach the leaves. Here's the story.

http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/images/missing_img.gif
Chestnuts Roasting

In 1904 it was estimated that a fourth of all trees in Eastern United States were American Chestnuts. The tree typically grew to eighty feet before permanent branches took over, so the shading and tall pillars of tree trunks gave the forest a particular cathedral-like distinctiveness, much celebrated by such authors as James Fennimore Cooper. The wood of the American Chestnut tree is rot-resistant, so it was favored by carpenters, log-cabin builders, and furniture makers. It once was a major source of tannin, for leather tanning. The nuts were edible, but it has been a long time since they were available for much eating. The chestnuts you see roasted by sidewalk vendors are primarily Chinese Chestnuts, which actually come to us from South Korea. The Buckeye, or horse chestnut, produces a pretty and abundant nut, but is too bitter for most tastes. For whatever reason, a fungus was first discovered to infect the chestnuts of the Bronx Zoo in 1905, attracting the attention of Teddy Roosevelt and his Progressive naturalist friends, but to little avail. The fungus (Cryphonetria parasitica) enters the tree through cracks in the bark, flourishes in the part of the tree which is above ground, leaving the roots undisturbed. Ordinarily, when this sort of thing happens, the roots send up shoots which keep the tree alive and flourishing. Unfortunately, the abundant deer of this area quickly nipped off the shoots as they appeared, and finally the trees died. It took only a decade or so for this combination of natural enemies to wipe out the species, and today it is unusual to see lumber from this source. The forests of Chestnuts have been replaced by other trees, mostly oaks. The Chinese chestnut, however, proved to be resistant to the fungus, even though it does not grow to the same height.

{Chinese Chestnuts}
Chinese Chestnuts

After many futile but well meaning efforts to save the trees by foresters, friends of the American Chestnut tree turned to geneticists. The goal was to transfer the fungus resistance gene from the Chinese Chestnut to a few surviving American Chestnuts. It took six or seven generations of cross breeding to do it (four generations of seedlings, then crossing the crosses, then weeding out the undesirable offspring), but eventually the Tyler Arboretum was supplying truckloads of seedlings to the volunteers to plant in likely places. It's going to take many years for the seedlings to grow in sufficient numbers to make an impact on our forests, and eventually on our carpenters, but that effort is under way with gusto. If anyone wants to volunteer to join this effort, there appears to be room for plenty more people to help.

(2383)

I found some nuts on the ground at a park in MN. afew years ago. I planted them and got two trees. When I moved I took one with me. I had to transplant it twice, but it looks healthy and is about two feet tall. I went back to the park today to try and get more nuts, but the tree has died. Checking online I've identified the tree as chestnut, but not sure what kind. I'd be interested in learning more about your project. Thanks I found some nuts on the ground at a park in MN. afew years ago. I planted them and got two trees. When I moved I took one with me. I had to transplant it twice, but it looks healthy and is about two feet tall. I went back to the park today to try and get more nuts, but the tree has died. Checking online I've identified the tree as chestnut, but not sure what kind. I'd be interested in learning more about your project. Thanks
Posted by: MNJohn   |   Sep 24, 2014 12:26 AM
How do I get in on this?I had a dear friend who was very into it, but since his death, I hear almost nothing about what is happening with the chestnut foundation, and he never did give me any of his contacts. I have been trying to replant chestnuts that I find around, but so far, not a lot of luck with that venture. LOL. Please get in touch with me and we can go from there. Thank you much,, carp
Posted by: carp   |   Feb 17, 2013 3:07 PM

Please Let Us Know What You Think


(HTML tags provide better formatting)

Because of robot spam we ask you to confirm your comment: we will send you an email containing a link to click. We apologize for this inconvenience but this ensures the quality of the comments. (Your email will not be displayed.)
Thank you.