The American chestnut is a fast-growing tree best recognized by the distinct shape of its leaves and nuts enclosed in spiny burrs that break open and fall to the ground in autumn.
Before being wiped out by a fungus, the American chestnut dominated our forests and provided food and shelter for animals and people alike. Now, a new generation of blight-resistant chestnuts is being cultivated.
As part of the 60-year celebration of the Marquand Park Foundation in 2014, the American Chestnut Foundation donated and planted three newly cultivated seedlings in the park (see picture of seedling above). They all survived but after four years look very different. The tallest tree is bushy and narrow in shape. The second seedling has grown into a small tree with an elegant trunk and a more rounded crown. The smallest tree still looks like a seedling, is struggling and still fenced in to protect it from hungry deer.
A bookmark to commemorate the American chestnut will be available in the Treehouse library near the parking lot. For more information about the backcross breeding project of the American Chestnut Foundation, please consult www.acf.org.