The fruit that's reviving America's wetlands

The American chestnut tree, once a dominant species in eastern North America, was nearly wiped out by a fungal blight in the early 20th century.

Today, however, there are efforts underway to revive the chestnut tree, and one of the key ingredients in this effort is a humble fruit: the hazel nut.

Hazelnuts are a favorite food of the chestnut weevil, a tiny insect that spreads the blight. By planting hazelnuts near chestnut trees, scientists are hoping to attract weevils and away from the chestnuts, giving the trees a chance to recover.


This strategy, known as "attract and kill," has been shown to be effective in reducing blight pressure on chestnut trees. In one study, chestnut trees planted near hazelnuts had three times fewer blight infections than trees planted without hazelnuts.

These methods include breeding blight-resistant chestnut trees, restoring chestnut orchards, and planting chestnut trees in areas where they are less likely to be exposed to blight.

If they are successful, the chestnut tree could once again become a dominant species in eastern North America, providing food and shelter for wildlife and improving the health of our forests.

The revival of the American chestnut tree is a challenging task, but it is one that is worth pursuing. The benefits of reintroducing this important species are numerous, and the success of the project would be a major victory for conservation.


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