Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
The American Chestnut And Natural Selection
#1
Somehow I thought I had written about this before on an earlier thread, but must not have.  

Everyone knows the song that goes "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost............".  But I'll bet almost none of you have wondered where these chestnuts came from, or why they are not around today,......right?  

Well an unsuspected blight killed off the American Chestnut, and one of the greatest food sources, for both humans and animals, in the history of this country.  And only a few hundred of them managed to escape this blight.  Well, almost anyway.  The truth is that there are millions of American Chestnuts still alive today, and desperately trying to grow to maturity, but they can't.  The root systems are still alive and continue to send out shoots that grow for several years, and then they are smitten by the blight once more, and everything above the ground is killed off.  

This sad history is something that all Americans should know about, because the American Chestnut played such a pivotal role in the development of this hemisphere, and it looks as though they may well be making a comeback again, thanks to science.

Here is some history on all this

American Chestnut History

The American Chestnut Story

But believe it or not, there is hope:






Revival of The American Chestnut

Blight-Resistant American Chestnut Trees Take Root at ESF

A New Generation of American Chestnut Trees May Redefine America's Forests

Unearthed: Thanks to science, we may see the rebirth of the American chestnut

Also, at this time you can purchase young trees that are from blight resistant adult trees in three stages of growth.  When I first got interested in the American Chestnut, about six years ago, this was all still under experimentation and nothing was being sold to the public.  Obviously the time for the rebirth of this tree may have finally arrived.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________
"Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it" - Jonathan Swift, 1710
Reply
#2
Chestnuts are still available in grocery stores, but they are the Chinese Chestnut.
Reply
#3
(01-20-2015, 11:20 AM)Ron Lambert Wrote: Chestnuts are still available in grocery stores, but they are the Chinese Chestnut.

Let's hope that changes in the near future. But right now, the main thing is to make the nuts available for increasing their numbers.

I've never worked with real American Chestnut wood, but I've read, and heard that it is the best wood to work. It has very straight grain, is a very hard, but workable wood, and it has a natural preservative built in, not needing chemicals to keep it from rotting outside.

From a personal perspective, I can use experience to back up the preservative quality. In the late 70s, Dianne and I used to spend countless hours scouting out the Smoky Mountain national park. We went everywhere we could go, even the trails.

One of my all-time favorite places was the Roaring Fork Nature Trail. It was a lesser known drive that winded around on the Pigeon Forge side of the park. There were many old homesteads that were still up and there were pamphlets showing the detailed history of every homestead, the grist mill, etc.





But one of the things I noticed back then, and it was in the brochure, was the mention of the American Chestnut and how they were lying all over the ground. And they were. They were everywhere: Huge trees, just lying on the ground, as though they have been felled just a couple of years ago. But they'd been dead for decades, and hadn't deteriorated yet. I mean, they were literally all over the forest floor.

I'm sure that by now they are in far worse condition than back in the 70s, but I'll bet they are still there.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________
"Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it" - Jonathan Swift, 1710
Reply
#4
There are all sorts of wonderful examples as to why and how natural selection is such a great thing, and how it has led to the development of all kinds of life on the planet.  What it really is is a weeding out process in which those entities which are genetically stronger, manage to live in the face of threats.  

Its the same way with humans.  Those things which give humans a 'leg up' on passing their genes to the next generation will be bred into the gene pool, because they increase the rate of survival.  

Here's what I mean, with the British ash tree: Oooh Betty! How a 200-year-old ash tree is saving British woodland

Quote:While others around her withered and died from the seemingly unstoppable fungus which swept through Ashwellthorpe Wood, in Norfolk, Betty remained green and healthy.

[Image: betty1-xlarge_trans++YWL1AnUvnPaha4Gzna7...hCM8Hc.jpg]

Now after genetic testing, scientists have found that she has an unusually high tolerance to the disease, raising hopes that trees with similar genes can be grown and planted to regenerate Britain’s ailing ash populations.

Professor Allan Downie, Emeritus Fellow at the John Innes Centre added: “The identification of genetic markers for trees with low susceptibility to ash dieback is a large first step, one of many that will be needed in the fight to help ash trees survive this disease epidemic.

Chalara ash dieback, which is likely to kill at least 50 per cent of the country’s 120 million ash trees, was first identified in the UK in 2012 and experts feared it could have the same devastating impact on the country's woodlands and landscape as Dutch elm disease in the 1970s.  More than 1,000 cases of the disease have been reported across the UK, and in some areas as little as two per cent of the trees remain.

The disease causes leaf loss, crown dieback and bark lesions and once a tree is infected it is usually fatal, either directly, or indirectly by weakening the tree to the point where it succumbs more readily to attacks by other pests or disease.

This very thing occurred in the early part of the 20th century in North America, where an oriental chestnut virus was accidentally introduced into the huge population here.  In a matter of a two or three decades, almost the entire domestic population has been destroyed.  Yet, there were a few chestnuts here and there, which were immune to the infection, and were not hurt.  Its one of the greatest examples of near species destruction. 

And yet the American Chestnut is beginning to make a slow but sure comeback.   Natural Selection in the process.  S22
___________________________________________________________________________________________________
"Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it" - Jonathan Swift, 1710
Reply
#5
Is this genetic revival plan based on defeating the Emerald-Ash Borer? The articla speaks of a disease, but the Borer is a malignant force of Nature that needs to be killed off.

I'd love to get back all the Elms and Ash trees that have died in the past few decades.
Reply
#6
(04-26-2016, 02:31 PM)WmLambert Wrote: Is this genetic revival plan based on defeating the Emerald-Ash Borer? The articla speaks of a disease, but the Borer is a malignant force of Nature that needs to be killed off.

I'd love to get back all the Elms and Ash trees that have died in the past few decades.

There is no mention of any borers or other insects.  They are talking about a disease/infection.  

Usually borers tend to go after weak trees.  Strong trees are almost always able to resist the boring and rebound.  If you watch programs showing wolves going after caribou, they always go after the weak in the herd, and help weed them out of the population.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________
"Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it" - Jonathan Swift, 1710
Reply
#7
No - In Michigan the entire tree species was almost completely eradicated. Scientists claim the borers destroyed them. I never heard they brought them down as a disease vector, which is why I asked. This is similar to DDT killing the mosquitoes that carried Malaria, which then ended the disease infestations. We were told the borers came from a far distant part of the world and it was their importation here that was the problem. It appears that over the ages different spheres of the world have developed a constant environment - but when transferred to a place without immunity, horrible destruction follows.
Reply
#8
Its been a little over four years now since I began this thread.  Somehow, I had moved on to other things, and problems.  But today my Youtube account, which I subscribe to, posted a video from Greenhouse Megastore, which is part of my subscription there.  And there was a video about the American Chestnut.  It brings back real sad memories about how this terrible ecological catastrophe unfolded in the first half of the 20th century.  

In case anyone is still interested in this, I have a bunch of Youtube videos on the American Chestnut.  I know I'll never live to see them take back the mountains, but eventually they will once again, thanks for modern science.

The American Chestnut Tree
___________________________________________________________________________________________________
"Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it" - Jonathan Swift, 1710
Reply


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
Brick On advanced civilisations and natural selection Fredledingue 62 8,066 08-29-2017, 02:05 PM
Last Post: WmLambert
  Polydactyly And Natural Selection John L 28 19,781 04-25-2012, 11:25 PM
Last Post: John L

Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)