As always, I adore any piece of tree-related reporting in the Times.  The latest is about the American chestnut.  I have read a bunch of tree books that talk about the destruction of the blight, but I thought this article did a really nice job explaining the cultural significance of what was lost.  The newsy aspect is that the decades-long effort to breed a blight-resistant chestnut (first through cross-breeding with Asian chestnuts, subsequently via genetic engineering) is essentially complete: what is needed now is the approval of three federal agencies to allow the resistant trees to be released.

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5 Responses to Chestnuts

  1. Hank Roberts says:

    Chestnut Blight and Badgersett Hybrid Chestnuts

    We do not have the chestnut blight here at Badgersett, so we cannot test our trees here. However, years ago, comprehensive samples of our materials were sent to both China and Auburn University, in Alabama- blight is a fact of life in both places. Dr. Huang Hong-Wen conducted extensive observations on our chestnuts in both locations (his results were published in Root & Branch #4). Basically, he found about 80% of our seedlings to be functionally resistant to the blight, with about 20% succumbing to the disease. That is actually better than we had hoped for hybrids of this sort. While it cannot be a guarantee of resistance, it is an excellent indication.

  2. JBL says:

    Interesting! Although it seems that they are very far from the project of the American Chestnut Foundation, which is to breed a tree as similar to the American Chestnut as possible. (From their description here it sounds like theirs is not much like the American tree, which never grew anywhere near Minnesota. Also their website hasn’t been updated since 2017 — are they still a going thing?)

  3. Hank Roberts says:

    Badgersett is quite active. I’ve known Phil Rutter for some 50 years and stay in touch.

  4. JBL says:

    Ok, good — perhaps just have struggled with the consumer-facing parts of business.

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