University of Tennessee researchers believe they have created a new strain of chestnut tree that is resistant to the natural blight that eradicated the American chestnut in the early 20th century. Recently, 1,200 of the new trees were planted in three southern national forests—an experiment that will determine if the efforts to cross breed American chestnuts with Chinese chestnuts has produced a blight-resistant tree.
The American chestnut once accounted for 25 percent of all trees in the Southern Appalachians. They were a dominant species of our forests, growing 120 feet high and supplying a key source of food for many animals. The airborne fungus that killed almost all American chestnuts still exists today, killing any American chestnut as it reaches 20 feet in height. The new trees planted are 4-feet tall and scientists won’t fully know if they are blight-resistant for another 10 years.
Find our more at the American Chestnut Foundation.