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Historical Mechanisms Promoting Chestnut Survival Through Hybridization
Historically, chestnuts have provided food and tree products in European and Eastern cultures for many years. Chestnuts have saved some civilizations from extinction during famines, wars and natural disasters. The native American chestnut tree offered many promises and comforts to the early settlers, but during the disaster introduced by the importation of saplings from Asia, the American chestnut tree was nearly wiped out. Some chestnut tree colonies were isolated and due to advances in plant breeding, chestnut trees are being re-established throughout the country. The first place of the American chestnut is much higher than any other species in the world in terms of the sweet taste and the abundance of wood produced. Foreign chestnut varieties such as Chinese, Japanese and European have been used to introduce immunity characteristics back to the historical genetic code contained in the delicious kernel of the American chestnut.
An early reference to the American chestnut, ‘Castanea dentata,’ was given in John and William Bartram’s seed and fruit tree catalog, America’s first nursery catalog. published in Philadelphia, PA in 1783. The Bartram family, famous American explorers and botanists. close friend of Benjamin Franklin and US presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The Bartrams supplied American chestnut trees for the gardens of Independence Hall in Philadelphia and George Washington’s private garden at Mount Vernon and for Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, Va. President Jefferson was an avid plant collector and spent endless hours searching for useful horticultural crops that would be commercially viable for American farmers. President Jefferson tried and succeeded in interbreeding and hybridizing Spanish or European chestnut species, ‘Castanea sativa’. He also crossed with chestnuts, creating a hybrid cross between the European chestnut, ‘Castanea sativa’ and the American chestnut, ‘Castanea dentata.’
Thomas Jefferson is recorded as having specially grafted European chestnuts onto American roots, however, it is unclear why he did so, as American chestnuts grew better and tasted better than European chestnuts.
In his book Travels, William Bartram never mentions meeting the American chestnut ‘Castanea dentata’, despite his research in the southeastern United States, where it grows There were many trees in their habitat. The mystery created by Bartram without removing the reference to this important inhabitant of the American forest is a problem that may never be solved. Map of Bartram’s famous arboretum and garden, Philadelphia, Pa. and is still used today as a tourist attraction, has recorded the presence of chestnut goliaths on the border of the park.
The popular nuts harvested from American chestnuts had a higher flavor and yield than European chestnuts. These nuts were gathered and stored in the autumn shade and coolness, so that the wheat seeds could develop their sweetness. Nuts can be shelled and eaten fresh, or roasted over charcoal to enhance their flavor. A common sight on the streets of New York City or Philadelphia are street vendors roasting fresh pumpkins in iron pots to sell to pedestrians. The abundant nut crops in the native forests provided enough food for the residents, but also for animals such as bears, deer, squirrels, turkeys, and the now extinct passenger pigeons.
Nuts, due to their 42% starch content, can be milled into flour without damage for a long time and made into sweet and nutritious bread. In Korea, chestnuts are used in food like potatoes are used in Western countries.
The American chestnut tree is one of the largest trees found in the eastern United States, sometimes reaching 17 feet in diameter, large enough to drive a wagon or car. These walnut trees are found growing from Maine to Florida and from the east coast to central America. Some chestnut forests are found in the western states. The size of this beautiful tree really grew in the rice field. The long white flowers of the chestnut tree became a valuable food crop for the United States. fence. The thick wood was strong and very resistant to rot, making it perfect for telephone poles, fences, and other construction materials.
The great gift to the New World of the American chestnut that provided food, shelter, shade and tree resources, all but disappeared when the trees were infected by the fungus, ‘Cryphonectria parasitica’ in 1904. Years before that. , USDA plant inspector Frank Meyer noticed a fungal disease, later known as chestnut blight, entered US ports in 1876 from China and Japan on stock childcare imported from these countries. Luther Burbank, perhaps the world’s greatest grower, reported that he had imported large quantities of cashews from China and Japan in 1884. USDA officials went before Congress in 1912 after destroying the an American chestnut tree that grew at the Bronx Zoo, and was given a special gift. was recognized for his efforts to stop more dangerous diseases and pests from being imported into the United States by passing the Plant Quarantine Act of Congress.
Following President Thomas Jefferson’s example of crossing different varieties of chestnuts to obtain hybrids with vigor and progeny that may have, within the tree’s genetic material, built-in resistance to disease, the USDA has began to develop the American chestnut, ‘Castanea dentata. ,’ the Chinese chestnut, ‘Castanea ‘mollissima,’ and the Japanese chestnut, ‘Castanea crenata.’ Thousands of chestnut hybrids have been obtained, however, the American and Chinese generations are the most promising, but the Japanese chestnut has been eliminated. European chestnut trees were also not removed, as they were also hit by the drought.
Since the seeds of outcrossed chestnut trees are highly variable and there are no such germinal products, the seeds of the hybrid selected trees have not shown promising results in the establishment of commercial chestnut plantations. The chestnut, a unique hybrid selection, was grafted with such difficulty that the USDA unfortunately had to abandon its chestnut efforts in the 1960s.
It should be said that the flowers do not affect the roots of the tree and as a result, shoots emerge from the trunk that produce a few scattered seeds that can be used to continue the research on obtaining immunity to ‘the hybrid generation of the American chestnut’. Castanea dentata.’ The Chinese chestnut tree, ‘Castanea sativa’, ‘Castanea sativa’, is only affected by chestnut light. It became important to know that this immunity quality can be transmitted to American chestnut hybrids even though the presence of immunity factor in Chinese chestnut is only one sixteenth of final genetic composition of hybrids obtained from the cross between C. dentata and C. mollissima.
Luther Burbank reported the interbreeding of chestnuts from a gene pool that included crossing Chinese, Japanese, European (Italian) and American chestnuts to also include chinquapin trees. From this genetic mix, he managed to create a 1 ½ meter tall dwarf chestnut that produced seeds from seed after 6 months of planting. He was also able to produce mustard from an evergreen tree, whose fruits and flowers were produced regularly every month. The seeds are two inches in diameter, and each one weighs one or more clusters of 6 to 9 nuts per burr. In natural conditions, the spiny burrs act as armor to protect the seed from squirrels and birds.
A recent study by the Italian expert Antonio Biraghi has shown that some survivors of European chestnuts, C. sativa, are thought to have a form of swine fever that is genetically weakened in terms of virulence. the internal virus and the effect, called ‘hypovirulence’, seems to show that virus-infected chestnut trees have acquired immunity to deadly drought. These clones are believed by many scientists to be able to provide new immunity to the new C. dentata hybrid species with C. sativa and return to the parental genetic type and are evaluated.
Many chestnut trees are now being offered by mail order and online companies, offering a promising and productive future for commercial chestnut growing. Some of these services are available through the valuable insights and efforts of the US Department of Agriculture and its research facilities.
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#Historical #Mechanisms #Promoting #Chestnut #Survival #Hybridization