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

By Susan Freinkel

The yankee chestnut was once one among America's commonest, valued, and loved 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 with reference to 4 billion timber and left the species teetering near to extinction. It used to be one of many worst ecological blows to North the USA because the Ice Age--and one most pros thought of past fix. In American Chestnut, Susan Freinkel tells the dramatic tale of the obdurate optimists who refused to enable this cultural icon pass. In a compelling weave of background, technology, and private commentary, she relates their quest to save lots of the tree via tools that ranged from classical plant breeding to state of the art gene expertise. however the middle of her tale is the solid of unconventional characters who've fought for the tree for a century, undeterred by way of setbacks or skeptics, and fueled by way of their desires of restored forests and their strong affinity for a fellow species.

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Additional resources for American Chestnut: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree

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The spore slips into the crevice. With awful randomness, all the elements have conspired to deliver the spore just where it needs to be. Now, like a spark dropped onto a pile of dry brush, it Xares to life. On a hot summer day in 1904, Hermann Merkel, chief forester for the New York Zoological Park (now known as the Bronx Zoo), stood puzzling over one of the park’s American chestnut trees. The other trees nearby wore healthy crowns of green, but this tree did not. Several branches were dangling withered brown leaves, as if autumn had arrived a few months too early.

Murrill found that this fungus, like many, produces two types of spores. The Wrst type, produced asexually, is extruded in sticky masses 36 / Part One of reddish-brown threads that spread through rain or on the feet of insects, birds, and animals. After the fungus has cycled through several asexually produced generations, it starts to generate sexually produced spores, which typically erupt in late summer or early fall in an explosion of powdery yellow specks that are carried far and wide by the wind.

Suddenly, there was an interest in promoting healthy forests. ” Chestnut disease was certainly not the only problem on the new pathology lab’s agenda. ” The incomparably valuable white pines of the Northeast were under attack by a new lethal pathogen that sapped the life from their sprays of delicate green needles, turning them a scorched-looking, rusty brown. The graceful vase-shaped elms were being stripped of their leaves by a vicious beetle that had entered the United States from Europe. That tough forest stalwart, the hickory, was under siege from another bark beetle.

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