A tale of two trees: Redwoods of the east

Chestnuts make great forage food but they're well defended.

Chestnuts make great forage food but they’re well defended.

It’s chestnut season! Here’s a really old post of mine about chestnuts…


I know what you’re thinking…trees?  Well, you can’t say I didn’t warn you, but, but! trust me, this is an exciting story.  It is full of love and loss, loyalty and betrayal, perseverance and resilience.  Does it have swords, you ask?  How about pirates?  Wellllllll…no.  But it’s still a great story.

It begins right at the turn of the 20th century.  At this time, the American chestnut tree (Castanea dentata) comprised up to 25% of eastern hardwood forests.  Its domain stretched from Maine to Georgia (just like the Appalachian trail!).  Some think that it would supplement the current nut mast (the amount of nuts available to animals in the forest) by 50-60%.  This king of trees was not small: there are records of chestnut trees with diameters up to 21 feet (6.4 m) and heights of over 100 feet (~30 m).  Thus, they were called the…

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7 thoughts on “A tale of two trees: Redwoods of the east

  1. As an arborist, I see so many of these transported pests taking out our native trees. . Emerald ash borer, long horn beetle… So sad! I hate that we have to resort to changing the dna of the original tree. I wish people would think before planting invasive or even innocent looking non native plants. We’re still too stupid to keep our own viruses contained (ebola, even flu), that we think we can keep plants safe? Oh well. Truly glad something is being done to help! 😃

  2. In this area we have a small tree brought from China as a decorative tree, the Chinese Tallow tree. Its heart shaped leaves and lovely colors in the fall, its white berries and speedy growth all contribute to it being planted in yards and gardens across the area. And now there is practically no containing it, it’s everywhere. They spring up like grass in open areas, crowding together into a very dense forest of thin trunks and intertwined branches. They are about the only trees here that turn actual colors like yellow, orange, red, and maroon in the fall. Armand Bayou has tried to return a portion of their land back into native prairie but the tallow trees have made it very difficult for them. The tallow has the very worst characteristics of an invasive species, crowding out everything native, eating up light and other resources, hardy, and heat and drought tolerant. I know that it’s a weed tree, and yet, I cannot help but have some affinity for it, though I know it’s crowding out other trees I like. I think if we could harvest the tallow trees berries they would make great bio fuel, they burn like crazy, each one a tiny candle.

    I don’t believe I have ever seen a chestnut tree. I am glad they can do something to possibly bring them back. So much of what we do with our technology is harmful or at the very least not helpful, it’s nice to know we might actually remedy some harm we have inadvertently caused.

    • Invasives are definitely a thorny (pun intended) problem. Interestingly, their main influence is usually human mediated…they dominate in disturbed areas. There are so many problem species now, I could just write a list that goes on forever. Maybe you could start a tallow berry business?

      Chestnuts are beautiful trees…rather like oaks!

  3. At this stage in my life . . . . opening a business would take away from my time spent looking out my window and reading your blog full of stuff that interests me! I know several companies in the area are looking into the tallow tree for biofuel, I hope they make something of it !

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