American Chestnut

Being an arboretum as well as a cemetery, Green-Wood hosts a few American Chestnuts. This gives one the opportunity of glimpsing what was once one of the great trees of eastern North America. Castanea dentata was wiped out by the chestnut blight starting a little over a century ago. You can still find stumps that leaf out in the woods, but, generally speaking, these trees, which were the some of the biggest we had this side of the Mississippi, are no more.

As it happens, this particular one has the blight, Cryphonectria parasitica, a fungal pathogen. More detailed pictures here.

This tree should be thick with long leaves. Instead it’s skeletal. It’s still putting out flowers and, as you can see above, has a few developing spiny fruits. But it probably won’t be here next year.

(Sunday morning is when I pass the hat, or collection plate, if you prefer.)

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