Renbrook’s American Chestnut

male student holding an American Chestnut burr

Last year’s seventh-grade Life Science class discovered three American chestnut trees in the Renbrook Forest (Renbrook Magazine Winter 2022). This exciting find enabled students to dive into the historical, cultural, and economic significance of this once-dominant hardwood and the introduced blight which swiftly killed over four billion trees in the early decades of the 20th century. It also provided them with a unique opportunity to join the American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) in its bold mission: “to develop a blight resistant American chestnut tree through breeding, biotechnology, and biocontrol, and restore the tree to its native forests in the eastern United States.” By sending twig and leaf samples and other data to TACF’s regional scientist, Renbrook students helped expand TACF’s database of all the known wild chestnut trees in the United States. But this was just the beginning.

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