The American Chestnut dominated The Eastern Seaboard from Georgia to Maine not so long ago. They were the main canopy species of these forests, an estimated 4 billion trees, covering over 8 million acres, and they fed multitudes.
Chestnuts were sold roasted on pushcarts in our cities, fed the now extinct passenger pigeon; the trees provided timber, enormous, majestic. They were quickly driven near to extinction thanks to a fungal blight that hitched a ride on a Chinese Chestnut in 1904. Sadly, this is how it happens. A pathogen arrives with a new plant, and we lose a species, and the various species which in turn fed on it, and on them.
“The chestnut blight was accidentally introduced to North America around 1904 when Cryphonectria parasitica was introduced into the United States from East Asia from the introduction of the cultivation of Japanese chestnut trees into the United States for commercial purposes. It was first found in the chestnut trees on the grounds of the New York Zoological Garden (the “Bronx Zoo”) by Herman W. Merkel, a forester at the zoo.” — Wikipedia Chestnut Blight
The Long Island Conservancy is supporting the heroic efforts to return this tree here locally, one that was quite native to Long Island and where we are finding remnant stands.
The Long Island Conservancy, starting this Saturday/Sunday at Summerfest in Sayville, will be selling our American Chestnut seedlings as part of a local breeding program to bring the tree back to our community. Each tree will be sold with an enclosure so that it won’t immediately become deer or rabbit food and live to the 7-10 years it takes for the tree to reach maturity. At that time, we will pollinate the chestnuts with genetically altered pollen so we can breed resistance in.
Support the return of this vital but critically endangered tree, and help to rebuild local habitat and to contribute to The Long Island Conservancy.
You can donate your American Chestnut here. We will plant it in your yard or in a local public park to be named soon.
Very recently, a remnant stand of American Chestnuts were discovered near to Lotus Lake — a stunning find! So come by Summerfest then and adopt a tree, and we will help you watch over it long enough to see its children, a generation that could start the whole species over.
Thank you for helping to restore Long Island’s natural beauty!