Spread of Chestnut Blight

Chestnut blight affected more tree species than the American chestnut.
By Jeffery Goss
March/April 2013
Add to My MSN

In 1905, scientists discovered a new fungus attacking American chestnuts at a New York zoo. At first officials weren’t concerned, but then the chestnut blight spread rapidly.
Photo By Diane Guthrie

Content Tools

The chestnut blight is best known for wiping out most of the American chestnuts, but that tree species wasn’t the only casualty. It also destroyed more than 99 percent of a related nut tree, the Ozark chinquapin. Growing rapidly and bearing small, round nuts singly in the burr, Ozark chinquapin trees were once common on well-drained hillsides throughout the lower Midwestern and upper Southern states. By 1975, the chinquapin trees had almost all died back to the roots, only to send up new shoots that would grow for a few years before succumbing yet again to the blight.

In the last 10 years, foresters Stephen Bost and Kip Mourglia have identified a few trees that seem to have some resistance or tolerance to the blight. They seek to find thriving chinquapin trees in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, propagate the species, and provide blight-resistant nuts for planting.

So far, several dozen large trees have been identified as being somewhat resistant, and hundreds of new trees have been planted. With good soil drainage, the new trees have a good chance of escaping blight and root rot, and slowly restoring the tree species in the United States.

Read more: Discover how thousands of volunteers around the country are working together to keep the American chestnut alive in Preserving the American Chestnut.

Post a comment below.


Pay Now & Save 50% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Live The Good Life with Grit!

For more than 125 years, Grit has helped its readers live more prosperously and happily while emphasizing the importance of community and a rural lifestyle tradition. In each bimonthly issue, Grit includes helpful articles, humorous and inspiring articles, captivating photos, gardening and cooking advice, do-it-yourself projects and the practical reader advice you would expect to find in America’s premier rural lifestyle magazine.

Get your guide to living outside the city limits delivered straight to your mailbox. Subscribe to Grit today!  Simply fill in your information below to receive 1 year (6 issues) of Grit for only $19.95!


At Grit, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to Grit through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of Grit for only $14.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Grit for just $19.95!