Carolinas News

The Chestnut Tree Orchard in The Park at Glassy

The Park at Glassy is a beautiful, expansive, woodland sanctuary below the upper post office and the Children’s Village near the top of Glassy Mountain. It comprises 17 acres of sunny open areas, walking paths, shaded woodland trails, a waterfall, and several 100-yr old trees. Well-behaved dogs can roam off-leash, and attractive native plants, such as trillium, bloodroot, and devil’s walking stick bloom at various times. The upper level of the park is home to the Larry Recknagel Chestnut Tree Orchard.

In 2003, Larry Recknagel was a new Glassy resident concerned about the near-extinction of the American chestnut tree (Castanea dentata) due to blight. Working with Dr. Paul Sisco from The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF), he realized that the Park area would be appropriate for a selective breeding test orchard to renew the American chestnut tree. In 2008, after conquering multiple levels of bureaucracy, they got permission to move forward. A community of Glassy volunteers helped to prepare the land and plant 100 trees. Since the Chinese chestnut tree was resistant to the fungus, the experimental trees were pure Chinese, Chinese-American crosses and pure American chestnuts.

After several years, they inoculated the experimental trees with chestnut blight to evaluate their resistance. Those with little or no resistance were removed. Today, 7 trees of various sizes remain, and selective breeding studies continue with TACF and Clemson University. Unfortunately, Larry Recknagel passed away in 2010 and didn’t get to see the large, resistant, surviving chestnut trees spreading thousands of chestnuts over the orchard area.

The loss of the American chestnut tree earned recognition as one of the worst ecological disasters of the 20th century. The Asian fungus (Cryphonectria parasitica) that causes chestnut blight was first identified in 1904 on trees in the Bronx zoo. By the 1950s, about four to five billion chestnut trees (90-99% of the population) had died. The demise of the trees also led to decreased numbers of birds, mammals, and insects that depended on them for food and shelter.

Losing the trees was also a social disaster that changed the lives of many people. The lumber had been an excellent source of income. The tree became known as the “cradle to grave” tree because the wood could be used for cradles and caskets, other furniture, railroad ties, fences, shingles, and telephone poles. “Chestnutting”, or gathering the nuts, was a popular social activity and a source of food and income; railroad cars loaded with nuts would cross the country from rural areas to big cities.

Today, TACF and other groups still focus on restoring native chestnut trees in their original range from Maine to Mississippi. These efforts use a three-pronged approach known as 3BUR—Breeding, Biocontrol, and Biotechnology United for Restoration. The hybrid trees in the Park at Glassy are part of the breeding program. Newer research on genetically engineered resistance awaits government approval to introduce engineered trees into the wild.

When you visit the Park at Glassy, take some time to learn more from the TACF sign about the chestnut orchard and note the various chestnut trees.

The TACF sign explaining the Larry Recknagel Chestnut Tree orchard. SC

The TACF sign explaining the Larry Recknagel Chestnut Tree orchard.

In the fall, spiny chestnut burrs and nuts cover the ground; they are a favorite of the local squirrels, birds, deer, and bear. The effect of the blight is most obvious in winter; the stunted main trunks and multiple large side sprouts are typical on the larger trees.

The chestnut tree showing the effect of the blight on its growth. SC

The chestnut tree showing the effect of the blight on its growth.

Not knowing about the research effort, some people suggested cutting them down because of their appearance. In the spring, the white male and female flowers stand out.

Female flowers on American Chestnut Tree. SC.

Female flowers on American Chestnut Tree.

Paper bags over the reproductive organs control pollination as part of the selective breeding program. The seeds that were generated last year are being planted in the greenhouse of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and the US forest Services’ Resistance Screening Center in Asheville.

Bags covering reproductive organs to control pollination.

Bags covering reproductive organs to control pollination.

Thanks to the foresight of Larry Recknagel 20 years ago and a community of volunteers, the Park at Glassy has been part of an ongoing research effort to reestablish the American chestnut tree in its native range. We hope that the research contributes to the successful reintroduction of this beautiful tree.

Editor’s Note: The Cliffs at Glassy is a community west of Landrum, SC. This article, by Betty Kuhnert, was originally published in Stroll (The Cliffs Communities) Magazine, May 2023, page 58-59.   Dr. Paul Kuhnert, Dr. Paul Sisco, Dr. David Vaughn, and Mrs. Susan Recknagel contributed to the article. Dr. Paul Sisco started working with Larry Recknagel in 2003.  Larry and a group of Glassy volunteers prepared the ground and installed the orchard in 2008. The Stroll Magazine is a product of The N2 Company, 5051 New Center Drive, Wilmington, NC, 28403

 

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Pets of The American Chestnut Foundation: Episode 3

Charlie Renfield Sparkle, aka Charlie Chestnut or “Chichi,” is a certified HLI (Horrible Little Idiot) with over 6 months experience of bringing joy and chaos to the home of TACF’s Northern Regional Outreach Coordinator, Catherine Martini. He was brought home last fall along with the chestnut harvest and has been trying to bury himself in the forest ever since. Charlie is not a wild-type American chihuahua and hasn’t been genotyped yet, but phenotypically we believe he is a Pug-Chihuahua hybrid.
When not digging up various disgusting things in the yard, Charlie is most frequently attacking his siblings or snoring on Catherine’s lap while she checks her emails.

Matilda is the soul-dog and familiar of Catherine. She is a fearsome and powerful wrestler who only plays “Matilda wins.” Her favorite activities include sunning herself, going for long walks in the wilderness, protecting every baby (no matter what species – most recently, bunnies), and giving an amount of kisses way above the recommended daily allowance. Matilda prides herself on her ability to make anyone, even her dog siblings, give up their spot on the couch for her. And let’s face it, she really deserves that spot more than any of us do.

Moreau “Goose” Martini-Riley is a 5-year-old boxer dog who got the nickname of “Goose” because he is so silly. Goose is here for two reasons: to play, and to eat butter – and he’s not allowed to eat butter.
Goose only has one brain cell, which is heart-shaped, so he’s perfectly suited to his job of being the charismatic goof-ball who loves everyone. He enjoys making everyone he meets feel like the most important person in the world and will sneak in a sloppy kiss or two if you let him. Goose loves to help in the garden, mostly by digging holes, but he also loves to hurt in the garden, mostly by digging holes. Goose was born deaf, but he doesn’t know it – he knows sign commands and enjoys sleeping through his siblings’ barking parties.
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Join us on TODAY, April 19, 2024, from 11:30AM – 1:00PM (EDT), for the next LIVE Chestnut Chat, where we'll talk all about growing chestnuts!

In this episode, we will cover all the basics of planting, growing, and maintaining American chestnut trees. TACF staff and expert volunteers will talk about how to plant chestnuts from seed and from seedlings, including bareroot and containerized seedlings, as well as considerations for planting in the spring versus the fall. Bring your questions and don’t miss this Chestnut Chat that is sure to become an instant classic.

Visit the link to save your spot! tacf.org/event/chestnut-chat-growing-chestnuts/
... See MoreSee Less

Join us on TODAY, April 19, 2024, from 11:30AM – 1:00PM (EDT), for the next LIVE Chestnut Chat, where well talk all about growing chestnuts!

In this episode, we will cover all the basics of planting, growing, and maintaining American chestnut trees. TACF staff and expert volunteers will talk about how to plant chestnuts from seed and from seedlings, including bareroot and containerized seedlings, as well as considerations for planting in the spring versus the fall. Bring your questions and don’t miss this Chestnut Chat that is sure to become an instant classic.

Visit the link to save your spot! https://tacf.org/event/chestnut-chat-growing-chestnuts/

1 CommentComment on Facebook

Was this episode recorded? I was only able to follow along for a few minutes because I was at work. But, I'd love to see this again.

You can make a difference for people, for an ecosystem, and for a tree.

Join the movement to save the American chestnut by becoming a member of The American Chestnut Foundation today.

support.tacf.org/membership
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You can make a difference for people, for an ecosystem, and for a tree.

Join the movement to save the American chestnut by becoming a member of The American Chestnut Foundation today.

https://support.tacf.org/membership

One year ago volunteers gathered at Pryor Orchard in Edneyville, NC and planted chestnuts seeds gathered on the Appalachian Trail by NC/SC Chapter member Jon Taylor, who also led a planting demonstration at the start of the event.

To see find out about volunteer and planting events in your neck of the woods, visit our events calendar at tacf.org/events/category/tacf/
... See MoreSee Less

One year ago volunteers gathered at Pryor Orchard in Edneyville, NC and planted chestnuts seeds gathered on the Appalachian Trail by NC/SC Chapter member Jon Taylor, who also led a planting demonstration at the start of the event.

To see find out about volunteer and planting events in your neck of the woods, visit our events calendar at https://tacf.org/events/category/tacf/

HAPPENING IN TWO DAYS!

The VA Department of Forestry and VATACF will be planting 300 bareroot seedlings at Lesesne State Forest on Monday, April 15th. Planting will begin at 10:00AM and last until we are finished (likely 4-6 hours depending on how many folks come out). Please come out and help us plant these trees in our effort to restore the American chestnut!

Please note that the terrain we are planting on has a lot of brush and debris, it is not easy to get around. If you have movement issues I recommend selecting another of our volunteer events. Bring water, lunch/snacks, bug spray or sunscreen if needed, and gardening gloves. We will have all the equipment required for planting.

Please visit the link for more information. tacf.org/event/planting-at-lesesne-state-forest/
... See MoreSee Less

HAPPENING IN TWO DAYS! 

The VA Department of Forestry and VATACF will be planting 300 bareroot seedlings at Lesesne State Forest on Monday, April 15th. Planting will begin at 10:00AM and last until we are finished (likely 4-6 hours depending on how many folks come out). Please come out and help us plant these trees in our effort to restore the American chestnut!

Please note that the terrain we are planting on has a lot of brush and debris, it is not easy to get around. If you have movement issues I recommend selecting another of our volunteer events. Bring water, lunch/snacks, bug spray or sunscreen if needed, and gardening gloves. We will have all the equipment required for planting.

Please visit the link for more information. https://tacf.org/event/planting-at-lesesne-state-forest/

1 CommentComment on Facebook

Guess no accountants will participate

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