Delaware hunter chances upon ‘holy grail’ of tree lovers – full-grown American chestnut tree

American Chestnut leaves and nuts by Timothy Van Vliet via American Chestnut Foundation
Jim White and American chestnut tree

Join the hike to the 65-foot high American chestnut tree

Join Delaware Nature Society’s Jim White on a hike to an unusual find – Delaware’s only known full-grown American chestnut tree – in Cris Barrish’s WHYY article which calls it the “‘holy grail’ of tree lovers.”

Or join the hike in person with Dave Pro and Joe Sebastiani – Register for our upcoming Chestnut Tree Hike

This 65-foot high tree recently gained fame in Delaware when local hunter, Bret Lanan, recently discovered it at Delaware Nature Society’s Coverdale Farm Preserve.

The one White is hugging is the only one known to exist in the state; he calls it a “precious resource.”

Effectively extinct since the 1950s due to a blight

“This forest would have been 30% or more chestnut trees, American chestnut,’’ [Jim White] says. “Of course, the blight came in at about that time when they started to bring the Chinese chestnuts over.”

The “blight”…decimated the American chestnut about a century ago, with up to 4 billion wiped out in the eastern United States.

American chestnut trees were once very common in Eastern U.S., but due to the blight, they were considered “effectively extinct” by the 1950s. They are still able to live long enough to create offspring, but most never reach more than 1 inch in diameter. This is much less than the 100 feet (and 10 feet in diameter) they used to average.

“The great, great majority of American chestnuts that you find today throughout Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and so on are small sprouts that are struggling for existence,’’ Fitzsimmons said. “They get the blight, they die back, they resprout, they get the blight, they die back, they resprout. They’re these tiny diseased things.”

Efforts are underway to bring back the American chestnut tree

Jim White goes on to tell about Delaware Nature Society partnering with Delaware’s Mt. Cuba Center to grow sprouts from this unusual tree.

The nature society wants to nurture their discovery, in partnership with the nearby Mt. Cuba Center, White said. Treks to the tree will be included on some guided tours for the public.

Read the full article at WHYY – “Eagle-eyed Delaware hunter chances upon ‘holy grail’ of tree lovers — full-grown American chestnut”.

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Learn more about efforts to bring back the American chestnut with Tom Saielli of the American Chestnut Foundation in his interview with NPR’s Virginia Public Media: