Friday, March 25, 2011

Re-Introducing a Near-Extinct Species to Prospect Park

Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2011 at 2:08 PM

The new super-chestnuts, coming soon to Brooklyn
  • The new super-chestnuts, coming soon to Brooklyn
Yesterday, the seeds for ten chestnut trees were presented to Prospect Park officials; when planted next year (saplings will first be grown in a Staten Island nursery), they will be the first American chestnut trees in decades with a probable chance of surviving.

American chestnuts thrived in New York in the 19th century, when they numbered close to 1,400, the Park Slope Patch reports. They were valued for their lumber and fruits. But blight rendered the trees nearly extinct. "In 1904 a single American Chestnut tree in the Bronx Zoo in New York City was found with a strange fungus growing on it," writes Oliver Hulland on the Confluence Culture blog. "Within 20 years, 3.5 billion trees had succumbed to the fungus. By some accounts, more than a quarter of all trees in forests that stretched from Maine to Georgia disappeared." Today, there are eight chestnut trees in Brooklyn, planted in Prospect Park in 2004 by enthusiast and park volunteer Bart Chezar, who lives on Garfield Place. It's not a question of if those trees will succumb to blight, but when. One, in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, already has.

Chezar, who years ago was behind reintroducing oysters to New York harbor, was a driving force behind procuring these new seeds from the American Chestnut Foundation: they are blight-resistant. "For almost 30 years," the Daily News reports, "the group has working on a hybrid by cross-breeding an American tree with a Chinese one that's immune to the disease." (Never mind that the Chinese Chestnut was responsible for this mess in the first place!) The hope is restore a once-iconic tree to its rightful position of prominence.

While resistant to blight, the saplings will be vulnerable to a different predator: rabbits, which the Park Slope Patch reports enjoy gnawing on the baby trees. Let's hope rabbits don't become the new geese.


Tags: , , , ,


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Henry Stewart

  • The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week

    Noirs classic and neo, melodrama, vampires, Buñuel, and Diane Keaton in the best outfits in the history of cinema.
    • Jul 30, 2014
  • The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week

    The Beatles! Structuralism! Femmes Fatale! And so much more, in this week and weekend's rep cinema picks.
    • Jul 16, 2014
  • More »

Most Commented On

Most Shared Stories

Top Viewed Stories

Top Topics in The Measure

Film (27)

Art (8)

Music (8)

Special Events (6)

Theater (5)

Books (3)

TV (3)

© 2014 The L Magazine
Website powered by Foundation