Bringing Back the American Chestnut Tree and Native Medicinal and Food-Producing Species

NARRATIVE AND PHOTOGRAPHIC REPORT

for United Plant Savers
by Antinanco Earth Arts School (Partner in Education)

 

5. Antinanco Earth Arts School - Bringing Back the American Chestnut Tree and Native Medicinal and Food-Producing Species, Partners in EducationProject Title: Bringing Back the American Chestnut Tree and Native Medicinal and Food-Producing Species

Award Date: May 7, 2021

Award Amount:  $500

Purpose of the Project: The purpose of the Project is to achieve lasting preservation of the American Chestnut Tree (Castanea dentata), restore native medicinal and food-producing species, and involve community groups in this effort. The American Chestnut Tree is native to the North American forest ecosystem, and is currently functionally extinct. We plant American Chestnut trees along with other native medicinal, food-producing and/or threatened plants, track and monitor their health and growth, and provide ongoing care utilizing various biologic restoration methods. We encourage public participation of children, volunteers and adults in the restoration and preservation efforts, and educate them about the importance of the American Chestnut Tree and other native species in our ecosystem. We train participants as citizen scientists to care for the trees and plants, monitor their observations, and share data with the conservation community.

Objectives Achieved/Future of the Project:

Objectives Achieved

  1. 45 Pure American Chestnut Trees planted (from seeds of mature survivors exhibiting a degree of blight resistance).
  2. 87 Native Medicinal and Food Producing trees and bushes planted (American Paw Paw, Black Chokeberry, Eastern Larch, Eastern Persimmon, Eastern Redbud, Silver Maple).
  3. Tree Seedlings Distributed to Conservation Communities/Public for Planting: 192
  4. Chestnut Seeds (Pure and Hybrid) Distributed to Conservation Communities/Public for Planting: 250
  5. American Chestnut Trees Currently Under Our Care (from 2018-2021) Plantings: 222
  6. American Chestnut Trees Lost in 2021: 0. One tree had extensive vole damage, roots are intact.
  7. 450+ Families, children, volunteers and interns involved in tree plantings, maintenance and inspections.
  8. 100+ sets of lesson plans distributed.

Future of the Project

We are committed to continue developing and expanding the Project in 2022 and beyond. The trees are currently planted on 5 public planting sites in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The American Chestnut Trees (pure C. dentata) come from four distinct genetic sources and locations, from mature surviving trees that exhibit some resistance to blight and produce nuts. The four sites and four genetic sources provide us with a comprehensive set of diverse metrics and environmental conditions (soil composition, sun/shade, moisture/elevation levels, juglone presence, native companion plants present), which will allow us to establish a broad spectrum of data and reporting for analysis. The data will be of great value to the conservation community as it will demonstrate differences in performance based on the variations in trees’ genetic composition, growing conditions, presence of juglone, symbiotic relationships with companion plants, and mycorrhizal fungi.

Our current findings already demonstrate trends that will be helpful to gain better understanding of how to reduce the American Chestnut Tree’s mortality, identify the trees that exhibit stronger resistance and to contribute effectively to the trees’ performance in the future.

We will also continue to expand the educational component of the Project, and involve students, families and the public at large in repopulating our woodlands with native food producing and medicinal species.

We Thank United Plant Savers for supporting this effort!

(Below please find a few pictures from our planting events. We are also sending you a few pure American chestnut seeds that come from trees planted by the American Chestnut Cooperators’ Foundation in Pennsylvania).

Warm Regards, Antinanco Team