Video: Death of the American Chestnut
April 28, 2021 | 12:28 pm CDT



The American chestnut was once the dominant species of eastern U.S. forests and thrived for an estimated 40 million years. The trees grew fast and tall and in great abundance. It’s estimated that the number of American chestnut trees at one time approached 4 billion covering 200 million acres. The wood was prized for furniture, fencing and building. The nuts were a source of food for wildlife, livestock, and people.

According to the American Chestnut Foundation, the health of the American chestnut took a quick and deadly turn for the worse right around the turn of the 20th century with the introduction of the non-native pathogen Cryphonectria parasitica, the causal agent of chestnut blight. Over the next half-century, this disease, which the foundation refers to as the “Appalachian Apocalypse,” reduced the American chestnut to little more than an early-succession-stage shrub. As a result, essentially no chestnut lumber has been sold in the United States for decades.

The accompanying video was produced by the USDA Forest Service, The University of Tennessee, and other partners to showcase their research to revive the American chestnut.

Part 2 of the Forest Service's video focuses on research to restore the American chestnut.

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Rich Christianson | President/Owner/C-Level

Rich Christianson is the owner of Richson Media LLC, a Chicago-based communications firm focused on the industrial woodworking sector. Rich is the former long-time editorial director and associate publisher of Woodworking Network. During his nearly 35-year career, Rich has toured more than 250 woodworking operations throughout North America, Europe and Asia and has written extensively on woodworking technology, design and supply trends. He has also directed and promoted dozens of woodworking trade shows, conferences and seminars including the Cabinets & Closets Conference & Expo and the Woodworking Machinery & Supply Conference & Expo, Canada’s largest woodworking show.