The loss of the American Chestnut - April 29, 2007 Smokies...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
April 29, 2007 Smokies Paper The Loss of the American Chestnut Imagine yourself walking along in an old growth Appalachian forest when you suddenly stumble upon something amazing. As you look around you see trees towering over a hundred feet above your head, with massive trunks 10-15 feet wide. As you stand in awe, images of the giant redwood trees of the west come into your mind. You’ve suddenly stumbled upon some ancient giant of the past that you thought only existed in small regions along the western seaboard. While today this might seem like fiction, it was less than a hundred years ago that this scenario could be commonly encountered in the east. This tree was known as the Castanea dentata or American chestnut, and was the king of the eastern deciduous forest. Today the tree is known mostly by photographs and memories being seen only in small sprouts and under-story brush that rise from this fallen giant. The American chestnut was without a doubt, the flagship tree of the eastern deciduous forest. It was the fastest growing tree of this region, and grew in unimaginable numbers. In the early twentieth century one of every four trees in the Appalachian forest was an American chestnut. This tree was any loggers dream. Not only did the tree grow at a stunningly quick pace, but it had wood as strong as oak, only lighter. Not only this, but the wood was extremely resistant to decay. So much so that fallen American chestnuts can still be observed on the forest floor in good condition today, over half a century since their death. At its peak it was estimated that this tree alone accounted for fifty percent of the overall value of all of the timber east of the Mississippi (Treadwell). This statement can make anyone realize the value of the wood that this tree produced, which at the time was used for nearly everything. Besides lumber, the tree had other economic value. Nuts that the tree produced were raked up by the thousands by people that lived in the area, and sold across the United States year round. Superior in taste to any other chestnut in the world, American Chestnuts were a favorite to nearly everybody. In the early part of the century tannin production made up an entire industry, and the tannin that the American Chestnut produced was again superior and more abundant than any other tree of the time. The tree was not just an important part of the economy, but it was literally a way of life for thousands of people, most of whom would never experience it again. (The American Chestnut Foundation)(Wright). Aside from the economic impact that the tree made on the region, the ecological importance of this tree was priceless. Numerous animals across the forest would come to feast on the seemingly endless supply of chestnuts that would litter the forest floor. Birds would migrate to the area for the food supply that these trees provided. Such a large and widespread tree must have indeed set the pace of growth in this forest, not only with the fauna, but with the vegetation as well (The American Chestnut Foundation).
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course NRES 287 taught by Professor Edgington during the Spring '07 term at University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

Page1 / 5

The loss of the American Chestnut - April 29, 2007 Smokies...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 2. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online