Bringing Back the American Chestnut

Sunday, October 3, 2021
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM (ET)
OCL Virtual
Event Type
Ciborowski, Jennie
Grounds, Arboretum, and Sustainability

This virtual event is sponsored by Haverford College Arboretum and the Hardy Plant Society.

This talk will touch on the importance and recent tragic history of this iconic tree, which once dominated Eastern forests but was virtually wiped out by an imported blight that appeared in the early 1900s. The talk will describe the challenges and describe the several varied strategies underway that are part of the effort to help propel the tree over what researchers have called "the cusp of extinction" and to re-establish it in the North American forest. These strategies include traditional breeding, biological control of the blight fungus, genetic engineering, and finding and propagating surviving American chestnuts. The talk will include a simplified description of the genetics involved in developing a blight-resistant tree that can thrive in the forest environment. Mike will also offer keys to help identify this tree. And be on the alert - Mike may bring out his banjo and break into singing the Laurie Lewis song "American Chestnuts" as he did recently for an American Chestnut Foundation event.

The lecture will take place on Zoom and the event link and password will be emailed to all participants prior to the event. To register for the event please visit:

Speaker Biography: Mike Aucott is a Haverford College alumnus (B.A., 1968) and holds a Ph.D. in environmental science from Rutgers University. He retired from his position as a research scientist for the NJ Department of Environmental Protection in 2012, and now teaches chemistry part-time at the College of New Jersey. He also does consulting work in energy issues, air pollution, and climate change, and is a member of the American Chestnut Foundation. Mike has established an orchard of 800 hybrid and wild-type American chestnut trees in Northern Pennsylvania.

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