Yes! American Chestnut Trees!
I was pleased this morning to be able to tell a dear friend that the trees he thought might be American Chestnuts, Castanea dentata, were indeed, the not often found species. Yay! This is good. I had mixed feelings though, because at the same time, I had to tell him that his trees would definitely succumb to chestnut blight. That is of course unless some crazed, chain saw wielding person comes along and cuts the trees down.
The first thing I looked for on my friend’s trees – the classic ocean wave of the leaf edge. The leaf in the photo above is one that I pressed to save, since it has the perfect example of the American Chestnut leaf edge. This morning the leaf edges were a bit hard to see since it is so late in the season, and the leaves were curled and dry, but I was encouraged by the edges I could see. Also the shape of the leaf is like a canoe – quite pointed at both ends. And an American Chestnut leaf is generally 5 to 9 inches long.
Another thing I took into consideration was the bark of the trees. American Chestnuts have easily visible lenticels, or breathing pores, that look like fine salt on a pretzel. These trees did have these lenticels. Chinese Chestnuts also have these lenticels, but they look like large salt grains. My friends trees had an appearance of fine salt grains.
Tootsie Rolls Anyone?
Another sign of an American Chestnut is the color of the twigs, a rich Tootsie Roll brown, along with those lenticels. Again the trees passed the test. Last but not least, I took into consideration the environment that the trees are living in – forested land with no clearing. American Chestnuts are shade tolerant trees, surviving in shade, just waiting for an opportunity to capture sunshine and shoot up to their tallest potential. Chinese Chestnuts are not shade tolerant. Good news, Buddy! I feel you’ve got several American Chestnut trees. Keep your fingers crossed, and if you are very lucky, they may grow to be sizable trees!
One Ridge North
As I was checking out Buddy’s trees, I was taking in the beauty of his property, one mountain ridge north of mine. He’s a landscape architect and his property reflects what a person in this profession would have, if he was guided by Mother Nature. He lives in the woods, surrounded by native plants. I was struck by one native in particular. One that I blogged about yesterday: Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana. The photo above is his native species. See how the berries cluster on the stem, like poufs on a French poodle?
Mine – Not A Native
While Buddy has the native, I get the booby prize, with my Purple Beautyberry, Callicarpa dichotoma, (above) which is not a native to North American, but of the Far East!