Endangered Species
Ecological Services

Featured Species | American chestnut

American chestnut tree. Credit: Ft. Detrick (click to view more images)
American chestnut tree.
Photo credit: Ft. Detrick


The American chestnut was once the most abundant tree in eastern United States, accounting for nearly one quarter of the trees in the Appalachian forests. First detected in 1904, an Asian fungus to which native chestnuts had little resistance appeared in New York City trees. The blight spread quickly, and by 1950 the American chestnut was virtually extinct except for occasional root sprouts that also became infected.

The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) has worked for 29 years to breed a blight-resistant American chestnut tree. Through this work, TACF aims to restore the American chestnut to the eastern forests through a scientific program of breeding and cooperative research. Recent developments in genetics and plant pathology promise new hope that this magnificent tree will again become part of our natural heritage.

In 2010, the U.S. Army Garrison, Ft. Detrick entered into a partnership with the Maryland Chapter of TACF to establish a restoration orchard on the installation to support the effort to mass produce blight resistant "B3F3" American chestnut seeds. The Ft. Detrick orchard encompasses approximately 1.3 acres and has more than 200 restoration trees in various stages of development. The goal of this cooperative project is to develop the orchard to the point that it will produce enough restoration seeds (B3F3) for offsite organizations to plant and nurture the seeds and/or trees on other Northeast forest locations.

Last updated: October 8, 2015