December 29, 2005

A GREAT AMERICAN TREE AND A PRETTY GOOD WEAPON:

Trying to Light A Fire Under Chestnut Revival (Washington Post, December 29, 2005, )

They aren't just for Christmas anymore.

Agricultural researchers at the University of Missouri at Columbia's Center for Agroforestry are experimenting with more than 50 varieties of chestnuts. The goal: to bring back the American chestnut.

A century ago -- before an Asian blight devastated most of the country's millions of chestnut trees -- chestnuts were a staple of American diets, particularly for recent immigrants. The trees' rot-resistant timber was used to build barns and beams, its bark provided tannin for leather.

While the chestnut remains an oddity for most Americans, commercial production is increasing, and so is demand.

"The American Chestnut Foundation has worked very closely with the Agriculture Department to come up with a disease-resistant strain of the American chestnut," President Bush said when he planted a 16-foot chestnut tree on the White House grounds to mark the 133rd annual celebration of Arbor Day on April 29. "One day the American chestnut . . . will be coming back. And this is our little part to help it come back."

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 29, 2005 8:26 AM
Comments

And inspiration for a Jewish songwriter, in the middle of a Los Angeles heat wave, to pen the best contemporary Christmas song to date.

Posted by: ghostcat at December 29, 2005 1:51 PM
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