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October 10, 2022 - October 24, 2022
Tree Trek 2022

Chestnut Sprouts and the Future of the American Chestnut 

FIELD | Monday, October 24, 1 - 4 p.m. 

Instructor: Dan Lazar

$55 Non-member Adult**

(**Arboretum Members receive a 10% discount on all classes.)

Course Capacity: 12

BRN Elective - Plant Studies

This field-based class is one of three meetings with a remarkable tree planned for our annual Tree Trek!

A hundred years ago. The American Chestnut was the dominant tree on many low to mid-elevation slopes and ridges in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Trees more than a hundred feet tall with trunk diameters of over four feet provided abundant annual crops of highly nutritious nuts for wildlife and humans. Then during the first half of the twentieth century the Chestnut Blight, caused by an introduced fungus, killed virtually every mature Chestnut tree in Eastern North America. But the American Chestnut is not gone. The blight fungus does not kill the roots of the tree and these surviving roots have been producing stem sprouts continuously for the past century. These surviving roots have preserved much of the genetic diversity of the species and offer hope of the eventual return of this magnificent tree to our Appalachian forests. We will hike a short section of the Mountains to Sea Trail through a forest formerly dominated by American Chestnut, stopping to examine some of these Chestnut sprouts while discussing the history and biology of the Chestnut Blight disease, assessing the current status of the American Chestnut in the forest ecosystem, and speculating on the possible return of this remarkable native tree to our Southern Appalachian forests.


Dan Lazar served for many years as the director of education at the Western North Carolina Nature Center, followed by several years as executive director of the Colburn Earth Science Museum. Dan has a degree in forest biology from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and has been an instructor in the Blue Ridge Naturalist program since 2005. Carlton Burke is a naturalist and educator who operates Carolina Mountain Naturalists, an educational service which offers wildlife and nature educational programs throughout western North Carolina. He also was on the staff of the western North Carolina Nature Center in Asheville for over 25 years as the Curator of Exhibits. Carlton co-hosts a weekly radio program NATURE NEWS and is also a NC state and federally licensed wildlife rehabilitator.


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  • In the event of inclement weather or other emergent circumstances, the instructor will be in contact with students to arrange an online session as an alternative to meeting onsite.

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Item details


October 24, 2022

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