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When I was a boy I remember reading in my outdoor magazines about the fungus that brought about the demise of the once great American Chestnut tree.

And when I turned 25 I remember joining the Arbor Day Foundation and learned about their (and others’) nascent efforts to reintroduce the tree (I think by creating a hybrid version that was resistant to this particular blight). But I long since forgot about it.

Until now.

The foundation started planting their new chestnuts—one-sixteenth Chinese and the rest American—in Virginia in 2006. More than 100,000 of the trees are growing across 19 states, with plans for millions more in what the group calls the country’s largest ecological restoration effort. Thousands of trees were inoculated with the fungus in June 2011, with 20% showing strong resistance and 40% with a more moderate amount, foundation president Bryan Burhans said. Scientists will select for the strongest resistances when breeding future generations, he said.

I am not sure I’d call this “success” yet, but it is yet another illustration that the term “irreversible” is not as clear as what one might imagine. Remember, after all, that the Russians just regenerated a plant that had been “extinct” for many millions of years. By the way, when looking for an image of the tree to post I ran across this article from Scientific American.

HT to the indispensable Maggie’s Farm.

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