By Susan Freinkel
The yank chestnut was once considered one of America's commonest, valued, and cherished trees--a ''perfect tree'' that governed the forests from Georgia to Maine. yet within the early 20th century, an unique plague swept during the chestnut forests with the strength of a wildfire. inside of 40 years, the blight had killed with regards to 4 billion bushes and left the species teetering on the point of extinction. It was once one of many worst ecological blows to North the United States because the Ice Age--and one most mavens thought of past fix. In American Chestnut, Susan Freinkel tells the dramatic tale of the obdurate optimists who refused to enable this cultural icon pass. In a compelling weave of background, technological know-how, and private statement, she relates their quest to avoid wasting the tree via equipment that ranged from classical plant breeding to state-of-the-art gene expertise. however the center of her tale is the solid of unconventional characters who've fought for the tree for a century, undeterred through setbacks or skeptics, and fueled by way of their goals of restored forests and their strong affinity for a fellow species.
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Additional resources for American Chestnut: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree
Because the disease did its dirty work under the bark, Murrill was dubious that any amount of spraying of the tree’s surface, even with as strong a brew as Bordeaux mixture, could have an eVect. Still, he tried to be hopeful, suggesting that older trees might be rescued by cutting out the aVected areas, burning the cut limbs, and dressing the wounds with creosote or tar. He thought young trees had more of a Wghting chance and that “vigilance and care should largely control the disease” 38 / Part One among them.
Other nuts could be found in the woods on a crisp fall day. There were walnuts, butternuts, beechnuts, and hickory nuts, too. But the chestnut seemed to spark a special devotion. Was it the beauty of the nuts, shiny and smooth as polished rosewood? Their sweet, delicate Xavor, which could be savored raw, as well as boiled or roasted? The casual prodigiousness with which the trees carpeted the ground with their seeds? “The very fact that we have, besides the general term nutting, only the one speciWc term chestnutting, tells the story,” Weygandt wrote.
There was no shortage of theories, scientiWc and otherwise. ” One scientist attributed the outbreak to the demise of woodpeckers that might have killed oV spore-carrying bugs. Another suggested the disease highlighted the dangers of permitting people to hunt native birds: “It is very likely that some of the birds that have been reduced almost to extinction had the all important duty of keeping this particular enemy of the chestnut in subjection. . ” Amateur entomologists linked it with a variety of unnamed bugs.
American Chestnut: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree by Susan Freinkel