Sonny mentioned he wanted to plant chestnut trees -
here's a link showing native range & much more info :
A quick google search for american chestnut planting range
returns some other good looking links.
On 12/30/2018 12:12 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
It's now been over 40 years but VPI (VA Tech) had (has?) a few original
resprouted specimens they were guarding zealously from letting anybody
know where they were...at that time when I wrangled a visit with a prof
had gotten to know, the largest was approaching 50ft.
At that time, folks were still harvesting the occasional found log from
long since dead specimens.
As I understand, original trees or growth will sprout from root/trunk stock
, but after about 5 years, the blight will kill them. The blight bug is in
those areas, still. If this is correct, original growth is still availabl
e, but only when young.
I'm hoping the Morrow area has no blight infestation in the area, despite i
ts propensity to migrate by seemingly various means. I suppose aspect of
infestation may flow down the Miss. River, but hopefully Morrow is far eno
ugh away from the flood plain not to be affected.
Two year old trees only cost $20 ea., so a potential stand of 10-20 trees,
plus labor, is not that much of a gamble. Two yr old trees seem to have a
better survival rate than the 1 yr olds ($17 ea), when transplanting, so I
'm considering getting the 2 yr olds.
Also, as I understand, original stock (not hybridized) is growing west of t
he Rockies, brought/planted there by pioneers long ago. The blight appare
ntly hasn't yet cross over the Rockies. So, original seed and trees are st
ill available, if this is correct.
Actually, it's not an insect but a fungus... Chryphonectria parasitica
was introduced into the United States from imported Japanese nursery
stock around the turn of 20th century.
Mortality is true for 99+% of all that have been found...these specific
specimens are almost unique in that they have shown resistance to the
blight which is why VPI guards their location so zealously, they're the
basis stock for their research into trying to breed resistance.
As said, the one or two largest were approaching 50-ft when I was there
in summer of '77 (we moved to TN in '78) and I've not been back since to
see what may have transpired.
They were quite remote but even around the particular specimens, most
other regrowth succumbed within a few years so it wasn't that they were
totally isolated; these few specimens, did, in fact, have some
resistance others didn't/don't have.
There are a few other random areas that a some other specimens have
survived for significant times altho I've not looked for details in at
least 20 years to know just what stature any may have attained by now or
if they still survive...
I don't even know for sure about the VPI ones altho one hopes...
The individuals I knew by name are, not surprisingly, no longer at VPI
(they're all _well_ past retirement age by now, of course) and a (very)
quick DAGS didn't uncover much current work at VPI; it appears the focus
has gone to the American Chestnut Foundation rather than so many
individual programs/grants that were the pattern then..
I didn't find any online pictures of the specimens they were guarding
which also doesn't surprise me much given the time frame and their
almost paranoia about the location becoming known to the general public
for fear of poachers...the location of one earlier specimen of even
larger size had gotten out and it had been harvested by somebody in the
dead of the night so they had reason for concern...
I did find one image of one up in W MA...
On Sunday, December 30, 2018 at 2:15:06 PM UTC-6, dpb wrote:
tock, but after about 5 years, the blight will kill them.
Yeah, I used the wrong word. My concern is, no matter what plant(s) I get,
how can I know, for sure, the fungus (dormant or not) is not in the soil o
r embedded in the plant, itself.
Seems no one knows, for sure, where the fungus may be residing in any parti
cular scenario. Seems it has multiple venues of transport and multiple ho
st paths, i.e., the soil, air, water or *plants, for infecting. As to *Pl
ants, there may be plants, other than chestnut, where the fungus can reside
, in limbo.
There's this tree in Tumwater, Wash.
Link above, the guy's Flickr page:
These trees don't seem to be typical tall trees, with branches starting hig
h up. There's no confirming they aren't hybrid. Supposedly, west of th
e Rockies old trees are blight and hybrid free.
Anywhere in the East in the original native range I think you can simply
presume the fungus is present in some form or the other and probably far
Indeed, there are numerous plants with varying levels of
tolerance/resistance; some of the most promising work I was aware of had
to do with the idea of gene splicing from wheat cultivars.
West of the Rockies, any chestnut you find is an exotic; they aren't
native. You can probably eliminate the Tumwater specimens as being
hybrids simply from their age as before anybody was working on the
That they aren't fully typical isn't too surprising to me; who knows
what sort of childhood they had being in the park that may have
influenced their growth plus Tumwater, WA, isn't the Eastern
Appalachians (albeit it is interesting that the understory growth of the
Coastal Range out there is very much similar to that of the Blue Ridge
and Smokies; simply that the dominant species are the Doug fir and
hemlocks instead of oaks and other hardwoods.
By coincidence, my younger daughter happens to be in Tumwater and has
been for 20 years+ now...I'll have to investigate when we're there next;
I wasn't aware of them; not sure whether she is or not.
On Tuesday, January 1, 2019 at 2:56:08 PM UTC-6, dpb wrote:
In that link, the guy was a visitor, vacationing I assume. No relevant in
fo about the tree.
I don't recall where I read it, but one source mentioned the pioneers plant
ing original specimens when they went west, hence not hybridized. The art
icle mentioned the fungus not migrating beyond the Rockies. I have no ide
a if, since that writing, if the fungus has moved west. I like to think t
here are still fungus free trees or nuts to be had.
I haven't called/contacted the Georgia firm, but will today, and find out j
ust what stock they have. Their listings state "authentic product", but th
at may not necessarily mean fungus free. I need to know exactly what "aut
hentic" means and relative to the fungus. One would assume if they are fu
ngus free or hybrid free, then the Chestnut Foundation folks would be aware
, hence these trees are suspect.
I sent the details to daughter; she knows where the park is; she'll
check it out and see what else she can uncover about its provenance when
They're pretty short on any details on the web site, fur shure...
I'd presume in a nursery they can afford enough preventative care via
fungicides and such and with rotating stock to avoid active infection
while in the nursery itself.
The problem I'd see is you have no way to know what has transpired in
your area previously -- is there any documentary history going back to
the time the area was initially cleared to know if there was any
standing hardwood timber after the time of introduction to the US?
Or, like much developed ground, if there were chestnuts there at one,
time had they been clearcut long before the fungus may have reached the
Then again, the fungus could have been transported on other stock that
isn't susceptible any way, and may be lurking as you note. I don't know
that there's any common way to test--I suppose some lab could do soil
testing for a price.
On 1/2/2019 7:40 AM, Sonny wrote:> On Tuesday, January 1, 2019 at
2:56:08 PM UTC-6, dpb wrote:
Yeah, I noticed that they were from VA, I believe...
Daughter just sent a picture -- _much_ better resolution and explains a
lot--those were massively cropped back to nothing but stubs quite a long
time ago; the pictures they took pretty much disguise the fact or don't
show the damaged sections at all. Given that, it's no wonder they don't
look like much; who know what may have been done even earlier?
If you look at the one image that duplicates the silhouette in the
Discover article, then knowing it you can clearly see the size
difference...I kinda' noticed a little of that in one or two, but hadn't
realized the whole thing had been totally butchered...and in Cindy's
picture, looks to me like this wasn't the first time, either...note
particularly the large knob at the end of the smallish branch off to the
right of the LH specimen...
That's cuz they've been terribly cropped and no telling what else...I
sent Cindy's first picture to your email addy that shows them very clearly.
Since the park is part of a cemetery/funeral home now and there was a
service scheduled not long after she was there, she didn't try to learn
anything more on this trip about just how old they really might be or
their provenance regarding how they came to be. I'd guess they are
"real", not hybrids however.
I hadn't read the Discover article reference until just now; it starts
out with the fella' from VPI I knew and mentions the others that were
living on down in the article a ways. As of '04, it appears he may have
still been active; of course, that's another 15 years since, now,
almost; I'd guess he would be near 80 now, if not over...
Proceedings from a conference in which he presented some of his
research; much early work and all you'd ever want to know of the
On Wednesday, January 2, 2019 at 7:32:53 PM UTC-6, dpb wrote:
Apparently my previous reading and research has led me to the wrong conclus
ions. I suppose I should have researched the origin (who stated such) of t
hose articles, rather than what they had to say.
I was led to believe the west-of-the-Rockies trees were fungus free, plante
d by pioneers before the fungus was ever here.
I haven't read all the (link) proceedings, but it states that, even back th
en (early 1900s), the western trees were, in fat, hybrids, as you say.
I spoke with Willis Orchards, and several folks from the Ashville, NC chest
nut foundation office and they confirmed that there are authentic seeds and
seedlings available. The issue may be whether any growing products will
subsequently be affected by the fungus.... again, as you stated and what I
assessed, as well.
I've decided to gamble on getting 10 two year old plants and see what happe
ns. Might be wishful thinking, but $200 and some planting & care labor is
not a major investment. The Ashville folks sent me lots of info regardin
g soil, planting, care, etc. I haven't read through all that stuff, yet,
but I feel a little more confident, than months ago.
My biggest concern, now, is whether the fungus is in my area, which seems t
o be several hundred miles south of the native range of the original growth
Other concerns for my particular project:
1) Soil conditions are not exactly as lower Appalachian states, but it is s
andy soil, not clay.
2) Summer heat may affect growth.
3) A few southern insects, like curculio caryatrypes and other weevil type
bugs, will damage/destroy the nuts, themselves.
4) There may be other southern bugs that damage the wood, bark and/or leave
s, i.e., maybe as to why the tree's original range doesn't extend to the fa
r south (other than preferred soil type). I would suspect year 'round war
m weather and excessive moisture contribute to greater insect activity.
5) No telling what other issues I may discover.
I haven't read tremendous amounts of it, either, I was mostly curious as
to what Gary Griffin had published.
Which paper states that, do you recall? My gut feeling is that these
two specimens probably were/are true American chestnuts from somebody's
planting of nuts they did bring with them or that were just from the
Christmas stash when they were still widely available commercially
("Chestnuts roasting...") I remember them well in the days as a kid in
grandma's cupboard in the 50s, yet.
It's very difficult to try to guess just how old those two in Tumwater
may be given the abuse they've suffered...daughter is going to do some
more legwork and see if can learn anything more. Not that matters that
much, but it is a matter of curiosity, now! :)
Indeed; don't know that you have anything to lose other than some
capital investment and time...if your area turns out to be free of the
fungus, there's a reasonable chance they'll outlast you. :)
One would _presume_ these folks are using cultivars that have been the
result of some of the breeding programs and so have what level of
resistance that has achieved by now; did they give any hints/information
along those lines of the source of their seedlings?
As far as climatology and soil and stretching the range...we've brought
innumerable maples, oaks, poplars, etc., etc., back from VA and TN to SW
KS over the time since (now 50 years) the first move to VA for Dad to
try to establish something besides the Siberian elms...nary a one has
managed to survive more than a few years at most--the hot, dry summers
and much colder, dry winters are simply more than they can stand when
combined with the difference in soils. Just required far more care than
was ever time available for with the need to actually farm for a living. :)
There are quite a number of oaks and even a few maples in town where
they are more protected from the wind and are in yards that get more
regular TLC so it is possible to keep just one or two going if one has
the time to put in the necessary efforts to pamper them sufficiently.
On Thursday, January 3, 2019 at 10:27:59 AM UTC-6, dpb wrote:
States what? 1) That I was led to believe, etc., etc. .... OR 2) That
western trees were hybrid?
I've read a lot in the past months. It was in one of those readings that
a statement was made about the pioneer plantings being free of the fungus.
Apparently that was wrong, at least to some extent, or otherwise the fung
us eventually may its way over the Rockies.
I assume you're asking about #2, that the western trees were hybrids. Mayb
e not all the trees were hybrids. Pioneers may have planted original tr
ees. As to the Proceedings write-up, the very beginning, Re: "The Devastat
ion of the American Chestnut by Blight", on page 2 left lower column. Fro
m this, I'm assuming at least some of the trees were hybrids and probably s
ome of this planting/transplanting carried the fungus, there, in some way.
" Thus natural resistance in Asiatic chestnuts indicated an Asian origin
for the pathogen was likely. In the fall of 1912 diseased chestnut material
from Agassiz, British Columbia, proved to contain E. parasitica ( Shear et
al., 1917). Chestnut was not native to British Colubbia and the Agassiz pla
nting contained stock of American, European, and Asian origin. Although
all the trees were ordered from American nursery firms, the planting superv
isor remembered the Asian species were shipped to Agassiz in the original w
rappings which consisted of distinctive Asian mats and casings. "
Further on page 3,
" Furthermore, evidence from several outbreaks in ornamental and orchard pl
antings in the western United States proved that even limited infestations
were impossible to eradicate. At the Agassiz, B.C., site, all infected tree
s were destroyed in 1912; however, the disease appeared on other trees in 1
934 ( Gravatt, 1935). In Gunter, Oregon, the disease was found on two trees
in 1929; these trees were cut and burned. However, in 1934 the fungus was
still active on one stump a foot below ground ( Gravatt, 1935). In
California, the disease persisted from 1934 until at least 1945 in spite of
meticulous eradication and sanitation efforts in the orchards on an annual
basis ( Milbrath, 1945)."
For months I've been trying to find where I can obtain either fungus free s
eedlings or the nuts. I had contacted either a Michigan or Illinois "firm
" (I don't recall which State) to obtain nuts. They never followed up wit
h further communication. Subsequently, I thought western samples were my b
With all the confusing (for me) info, I began to reason I should just selec
t "X" and give it a try. So, that's where I'm at. After speaking with W
illis Orchards and the Ashville folks, I'm a little more confident with sel
ecting the Willis Orchard seedlings. These may be better adapted for the
southern climate, soil, etc.
Yeah, that was what caught my eye...
I don't believe that's _quite_ what they're saying...that the Western
infected stock was of "American, European, and Asian origin" isn't
saying they were hybrids...not all American chestnut, yes, but not hybrids.
Sorta' minor point and asked not to argue but that I was really curious
if it pointed out that there had been such extensive efforts to
hybridize that early against the disease; but what this says matches up
with my understanding that that didn't happen until beginning after that
time with the efforts in NY and PA other that previous efforts aimed for
commercial enhanced nut production, not for disease resistance nor lumber.
There were efforts for commercial nut production in CA and rest of west
coast quite early; those were ready fodder for the blight when it got
into the region via essentially the same path as the east coast;
ordered-in oriental stock that was natively resistant but contained the
spores or nonfatal growth. There just weren't so many as east so didn't
make the major natural disaster of the east and so isn't as well known
to have happened which probably also helped to spread the general idea
that there isn't the infection in the west...and there are probably
still large areas for which that is true, but they'll be all those
places that simply aren't suitable for the chestnut to grow or in which
they've never been introduced and nobody built a house and ordered in
any orientals for they yard would be my guess.
I think that's really the best you _can_ do, yes. Did the Willis people
give you any indication of where there root stock is coming from and
what they/the providers of same have done to promote resistance? Their
web site is entirely mum on the subject only talking of the climate
Not heard any more from the daughter on whether she can find out
anything else on the origin of the two in Tumwater...I'm still guessing
those were "Christmas nuts" somebody just planted once upon a time...
On Saturday, January 5, 2019 at 8:54:17 AM UTC-6, dpb wrote:
Did the Willis people
I didn't ask them where their stock came from. They assured me their stoc
k was the real thing and not hybridized. This doesn't mean it's not geneti
cally altered, though. I'll call them again and ask, specifically, about t
heir stock and its origin. This info may be helpful. If this is the best
stock available, then I have no alternative but to accept and use it.
Would be interesting to know something of, indeed...I really don't think
there's anything else one can do now if want to try to grow "the real
McCoy" but hope one's location doesn't have a history of the fungus in
the area combined with, hopefully, stock that has been derived from one
of the selection for resistance programs such as what Gary was involved
in that are at least somewhat more resistant than the originals were
with the rarest of exception.
I've not done enough recent reading/research to know if any of the
gene-splicing experiments, etc., have gotten to the stage of there being
any results available commercially or not...
I was just curious as to what the status was/is as your posting
rekindled my interest from Lo! those many years ago wandering the
backwoods and seeing a marvel. Next time we make the trip to see the
kids back that direction I think I'll try to make a side trip if I can
find anybody at VPI that would be willing to share what the status of
those specimens is 40 years later.
When we made the move from VA to TN, the purchased house wasn't ready
for a month or so so we "camped out" in the tourist cabins up at the
Norris State Park at Norris Dam ...the first month was still in August
while the park programs were still operating and the kids got to know
the young man who was the summer naturalist on staff very well. He took
us on a couple of far off-the-beaten track hikes; one of which went back
into one of the very few remaining areas of virgin timber...there were a
few still-standing chestnuts, but none of tremendous size; those had all
fallen but there were some logs half-buried butts of which were
mid-chest high; easily 5+-ft diam.
Also beech, birch, poplars of awe-inspiring sizes...the existence of
these areas was/is pretty-much kept under wraps for the same reason Gary
didn't let anybody know where his specimens were--insufficient resources
to be able to adequately guard them if were known to general public.
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