Download American Chestnut: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect by Susan Freinkel PDF

By Susan Freinkel

The yankee chestnut used to be certainly one of America's most typical, 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 of 40 years, the blight had killed on the subject of 4 billion timber and left the species teetering near to extinction. It was once one of many worst ecological blows to North the USA 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 permit this cultural icon pass. In a compelling weave of historical past, technology, and private statement, she relates their quest to save lots of the tree via equipment that ranged from classical plant breeding to state of the art gene know-how. however the center of her tale is the forged of unconventional characters who've fought for the tree for a century, undeterred by means of setbacks or skeptics, and fueled via their desires of restored forests and their robust affinity for a fellow species.

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Extra info for American Chestnut: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree

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Those tough enough or desperate enough to brave the hardships of carving out a homestead in the middle of the wilderness were rewarded by a companionable ally: a tree of seemingly limitless largesse. Here, they found chestnut trees so enormous that just a few supplied all the logs a man Where There Are Chestnuts / 19 needed to build a cabin for his family. ” However much was cut down, the tree would quickly replace, the stumps resprouting with a speed and vigor unmatched by any other hardwood. “By the time the white oak acorn makes a baseball bat the chestnut stump has made a railroad tie,” wrote J.

And their countrymen followed. Over time the mountains Wlled with enclaves of tough, independent-minded people who were used to wrestling a living out of the poorest farmland. Few ever bothered to actually cultivate the trees—who needed to when the trees grew so plentifully? In general, mountain families treated the chestnuts as a community resource, a bounty to be shared by all, like the abundant wild game, valuable ginseng, or juicy summer blackberries. But many also had their own chestnut “orchard”—a grove of trees they had saved from the plow or discovered deep in the woods.

A family could gather enough nuts in a single autumn month to help stave oV hunger all winter long. “There was one time of year when we had food,” recalled one man who grew up on BuValo Mountain in Patrick County. “That was in the late fall after the gusty winds of a chestnut storm left the ground strewed with nuts. Pa and Ma would take us out by lantern light to beat the hogs to them, for the hogs knew every tree as well as the humans did. ” No one needed to buy land to pasture cattle or hogs when the forests supplied such a wealth of forage.

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