Friday, January 29, 2021

American Chestnut Online Course

A free, interactive, online course, ‘An Introduction to the American chestnut (Castanea dentata)’ is now available from the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station. The learner will be introduced to the ecology, silvics, cultural importance, historical significance, and demise of the tree species that once occupied 200 million acres in the eastern United States.

The American chestnut was once one of the most abundant and common tree species in the east, before it was virtually eliminated by a non-native tree disease, the chestnut blight fungus (Cryphonectria parasitica). American chestnut wood was highly valued for its rot resistance, and the nuts were traded for a variety of goods and services in rural Appalachian communities.

The course includes a glossary and various resources the learner can download including links to dendrology tables, external webpages, and published scientific papers. It is available for free to anyone through a simple registration process. The course is self-paced and will take approximately one hour to complete. A certificate of completion qualifies for 1 CFE credit with the Society of American Foresters.

The course was developed by Stacy Clark, research forester with the U.S. Forest Service, Southern Research Station and adjunct faculty in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries at the University of Tennessee. To access the course and registration instructions, click here. Use web browsers Edge or Chrome: If you have questions regarding the course, please contact Stacy Clark directly at or 865-318-8391.

Current Restoration Efforts:

The American chestnut and chestnut blight is a classic example of what can happen when our forests succumb to invasive pests and pathogens. Because of its environmental, economic, and cultural importance, many tools have been brought to bear on the chestnut blight problem over the past century. A team at SUNY ESF has focused on enhancing blight tolerance by adding only a couple genes to the approximately 38,000 gene pairs in the chestnut genome using the tools of genetic engineering (GE). These GE tools retain all of the American chestnut genes required for its adaptation to its forest ecosystem. For more on this program and its current progress toward restoring this keystone species view this You Tube video entitled The Chestnut Tree: Bringing Back an American Icon.

For more information on the American Chestnut visit the American Chestnut Foundation web site.