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American Chestnut Study

American Chestnut tree
John Foley @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.


The American chestnut was once common and widespread throughout the eastern United States. However, in the early 20th Century a fungus was introduced and the once widespread species was decimated throughout it's range. Efforts are underway to introduce disease resistant individuals as well identify naturally resistant specimens. These efforts are being lead by the American Chestnut Foundation (TACF).


In 2008, scientists and volunteers from the American Chestnut Foundation and Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) began training volunteers to collect data on American chestnut trees identified along the Appalachian Trail. Two types of data are collected:  (1) total number of American chestnut trees three feet in height or taller within fifteen feet on either side of the trail and (2) location and description of large individual trees thirteen inches or greater in circumference at 4.5 feet above ground. The data contributes to understanding the status of surviving remnants of a species that played a key role in forests throughout Appalachia before the blight fungus, was imported from Asia with Asian chestnut trees.

Data on large individual trees with the potential to produce flowers assists TACF in increasing the genetic diversity of its backcross breeding program, which is intended to restore the American chestnut tree to its former place in the region’s forests by producing an otherwise American chestnut with the blight resistant characteristics of Asian chestnut.


Useful Links

American Chestnut Foundation - Appalachian Trail MEGA-Transect Chestnut Project
USDA Plants Database

Key Contacts

Laura Belleville

Director of Conservation
Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Fred Dieffenbach

Environmental Monitoring Coordinator
Northeast Temperate Network / Appalachian NST
802-457-3368 ext. 36
802-457-3405 (fax)

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Last Updated: December 30, 2016 Contact Webmaster