Deitsch: Amerikaanischer Kaschebaam
Tax: Castanea dentata
The American Chestnut was once considered the finest chestnut tree in the world. The wood was highly prized among the Deitsch for use in furniture construction, and, of course, the nuts were widely roasted and consumed during the winter months.
Unfortunately, the American Chestnut was nearly obliteated by a blight that came in 1904 with introduced chestnut trees from East Asia. Thus, the American Chestnut, which is believed to have been 1/4 of the total tree population in the Appalachian Mountains prior to the blight, was reduced to a total population of about 100.
Alas, the blight is still here in the eastern US, so the trees numbers are not recovering except in some areas where conservation efforts are active. There are also pockets of the tree farther west in the US, where the blight is not present.
The tree is listed as endangered in the United States and Canada. There is a stewardship lesson in the tale of this beautiful tree.
Since most of us do not have access to the American Chestnut, this is also the night/day when we prune back second-year blueberry and huckleberry bushes.