By Susan Freinkel
The yank chestnut used to be one in all America's commonest, valued, and liked trees--a ''perfect tree'' that governed the forests from Georgia to Maine. yet within the early 20th century, an unique plague swept in the course of the chestnut forests with the strength of a wildfire. inside 40 years, the blight had killed on the subject of 4 billion timber and left the species teetering on the point of extinction. It was once one of many worst ecological blows to North the US because the Ice Age--and one most pros thought of past fix. In American Chestnut, Susan Freinkel tells the dramatic tale of the obdurate optimists who refused to permit this cultural icon move. In a compelling weave of historical past, technological know-how, and private commentary, she relates their quest to avoid wasting the tree via tools that ranged from classical plant breeding to state-of-the-art gene expertise. however the middle of her tale is the forged of unconventional characters who've fought for the tree for a century, undeterred through setbacks or skeptics, and fueled via their goals of restored forests and their robust affinity for a fellow species.
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Additional info for American Chestnut: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree
But by the mid-1700s, population pressures and rising land prices in the coastal communities forced many residents across the Appalachian divide in search of new homelands. Scots-Irish, English, Germans, and Scandinavians began migrating south from Pennsylvania, across the Alleghenys, through the gently rolling hills of the Virginia Valley, and into areas such as present-day Patrick County. The lucky Wrst arrivals got to claim the rich bottomlands; their children and new arrivals staked farms higher up the hills, with each succeeding generation climbing farther up the ridges to where “the bare bones” of the mountains poked through the thin skin of soil.
Who is there who does not recall the joy of a strike. ” Young boys were not the only ones drawn to the woods in the dim October dawn; Weygandt regularly spotted grown men “in whom the country heart is still alive” scouring the area for nuts. 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?
This peril would be even harder to control than the human hunger for proWts. t wo A New Scourge Here’s one way it might have begun: A tiny yellow speck drifts weightlessly on a warm spring breeze, Xoating in a neither-here-nor-there state, that “hungerless sleep” of a spore. The wind pushes the spore this way and that. It lights onto an oak leaf and is shaken free, comes to rest on a twig of poplar, then tumbles loose and resumes its aimless Xight. A sharp gust propels it against the branch of an American chestnut tree.
American Chestnut: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree by Susan Freinkel