Then, in the late 1800s disaster struck in the form of an imported Asian fungus which quickly killed a staggering 99.9% of the species. By 1950 less than 100 trees remained of the estimated original four billion on the eastern seaboard.
Restoration attempts started over 100 years ago, as early as 1912 there are records of high level meetings to discuss blight containment strategies but despite significant research a cure has yet to be discovered.
The American Chestnut Foundation has been leading the fight to restore the American chestnut tree to it's native range within the woodlands of the eastern United States using a scientific research and a back-crossing breeding program developed by its founders. They have over 6,000 members helping to bring it back from the brink of extinction. The first blight-resistant nuts were harvested in 2005 and the foundation hopes to begin restoration trials with blight-resistant American-type trees before the end of this decade.
For the first time their Annual Sponsor members have access to their potentially blight-resistant seeds. These seeds represent 26 years of their best science and are being sent to members for testing and evaluation only. Although they are not guaranteeing they will be resistant to the chestnut blight by planting the seeds you become part of their science team in helping TACF researchers improve resistance.
My seeds arrived yesterday and have started to germinate! Now I just have to coddle them for the next few years, record their height and diameter at year one, three, five, ten and every five years thereafter.