Dr. Michael Hensley
Degree Award Date
American Chestnut, Chestnut Blight
Forest Biology | Forest Sciences
Twenty-five percent of the eastern oak-hardwood forests of the United States was once home to the American Chestnut (Castanea dentata), which provided food and habitat for wildlife and was a central element in the economy of rural areas in the east. This all changed when Cryphonectria parasitica, a fungus from Asia called the Chestnut Blight, was imported around 1900 and began to infect and kill the trees throughout the species' range. Numerous efforts were made to control the spread of the fungus and protect infected trees, but none of the solutions was successful. Currently, researchers are getting closer to the creation of a Blight resistant Chestnut by using techniques such as backcrossing and hypovirulence. Someday, this tree might be introduced back into eastern forests. By examining the natural history and uses of the American Chestnut, including the effects of the Chestnut Blight and attempts to control it, as well as the current status of sprouts in the forest and the research of The American Chestnut Foundation, the ecological and economic importance of this species can be more clearly understood and appreciated.
Alley, Linetta S., "The American Chestnut - Past, Present, and Future" (2001). Honors Projects. 377.