Chestnuts | New Hampshire Public Radio

Chestnuts

The giant American chestnut tree all but disappeared 70 years ago, killed  by a blight that struck at the turn of the last century. By 1950, an estimated four billion of these magnificent trees were gone from our Eastern forests, and the tree, once dominant, is considered functionally extinct. We talk with researchers and volunteers who are working with promising new technologies to restore the American chestnut tree. There are still wild remnants of the tree in our forests - could you identify an American chestnut tree if you happened upon it? 

Airdate: Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The fall foliage season is sweeping through New Hampshire, causing residents and leaf-peepers to appreciate anew the forests in the state.  The colors of the season are a function of forest health, and we look closely at efforts to restore and protect three iconic tree species: elm, ash, and chestnut.  And a new report finds that New England is losing 65 acres of forestland per day


American Chestnut Foundation

  These days our world seems to grow ever faster. Of course, faster is a relative term - for the scientists trying to revive the American chestnut tree, even the fastest work still takes years.

For decades now, scientists and volunteers in the Northeast have been trying to bring back the American chestnut tree, which a century ago comprised about 25 percent of New England’s forests.

Blight nearly wiped out the American chestnut, and it did so quickly. Restoring the tree is taking a little more time, in part because the blight is still out there.

Thanksgiving leftovers in my kitchen include Chinese chestnut-stuffing. Most people know that our American chestnut trees were decimated by an Asian fungus detected in 1904 that killed untold billions of trees and wiped-out one of the most common and most important lumber and wildlife trees from eastern forests before 1940.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Its fall in New England and that means apples, cranberries, pumpkins, and – about a hundred years ago – it meant chestnuts.

But last century an invasive blight wiped out chestnuts on the East Coast. So in order to get the feel of the autumns of yester-year, NHPR checked in with the effort to bring the once mighty chestnut back to New Hampshire forests.