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Patricia Edmisten talks about a hybrid American chestnut tree. Photo by Caroline Harris

Originally published: 2013-09-03 23:26:16
Last modified: 2013-09-03 23:27:00

Avery County residents grow thriving hybrid chestnut trees

Caroline Harris / (

The North American chestnut tree is experiencing a comeback, in more ways than one. One hundred years ago, a quarter of the forest in the High Country was chestnut trees. These massive trees grew to sizes closer to giant sequoias than the oaks and pines that now dominate the landscape. The only visible remainder of the trees is the bark that covers some of the older homes in Linville and the Eseeola Lodge, and only the eldest generation can remember the chestnut trees. For those who never saw the trees, it is hard to imagine what a different landscape it was from the present-day view.

The chestnut, valued as a source of rot-resistant lumber and nuts, was destroyed by blight. It took less than 50 years for a non-native, blight-causing fungus, introduced in North America from imported Asiatic chestnut trees, to kill every North American chestnut tree from south Georgia to Maine, an estimated 3 to 5 billion trees. 

To read the complete story, please pick up a copy of your hometown newspaper, The Avery Journal-Times, available at almost 100 locations in Newland, Banner Elk, Crossnore, Spruce Pine and Roan Mountain, Tenn. To subscribe to The Avery Journal-Times, please call (828) 733-0401 or click to