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American Chestnut

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This deciduous tree, because of the chestnut blight Cryphonectria parasitica, is rarely found along the Appalachian range and in northeastern America, where it used to be the dominant tree in the forest. Sprouting clumps, and leftovers from dying chestnuts, are what are found mostly in the woods. The cross-breeding of the American chestnut with the Chinese chestnut has proven successful, and since around 2010, these chestnut trees have been planted in woodland areas. The chestnut is monoecious (having male and female flowers on the same tree). The small, pale green male flowers are in the catkins. The female parts grow at the base of the catkins near the twig. The American chestnut requires two trees for pollination, since it is incapable of self-fertilization, in spite of being monoecious. The nuts on the tree are enclosed in spiny green burrs in a tan velvet lining. They are a nutrient-rich food source for many animals. For people, the American chestnut produces edible nuts that can be eaten raw or roasted. In the past, wood was used for furniture, fences, shingles, home construction, flooring, plywood, paper pulp, and telephone poles. Because of the tannins found in the wood, it is highly resistant to decay. Most commercial chestnuts come from European chestnut trees; because the blight killed practically all American chestnuts, the very resistant-to-blight Chinese chestnuts are now the most commonly planted of the chestnut family in the United States.

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