In recent years potentially disease resistant strains and hybrids of American and Chinese chestnut, have been planted in Pastorius Park, SCH Academy and the Morris Arboretum. Through multiple generations of backcrossing, the genetic makeup of the hybrids is mostly American chestnut, but they have enough Chinese genetic heritage to confer a high level of resistance to the blight. This breeding work has been spearheaded by the American Chestnut Foundation.
Recently, using new technologies, disease resistant genetically modified American Chestnuts have been created and are being evaluated. These programs offer hope that American chestnut can someday regain its role in North American forests and as an urban tree in the community of Chestnut Hill.
Paul W. Meyer,
The F. Otto Haas Director, Retired
Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania
Photos: Top -A fine, mature specimen of Chinese Chestnut growing along the entrance drive of the Morris Arboretum. Note the low branching habit and the broad, spreading crown.
Botton – This magnificent specimen stood (photo c. 1910) in front of the Palm House at what became the Morris Arboretum. The fernery is beside this site today. The chestnut blight rapidly devastated the species, and by 1920 most of these giants were dead or were dying. Courtesy of the Chestnut Hill Conservancy Archives.