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Pre-Blight Distribution of Castanea dentata (Marsh.) Borkh
Emily W. B. Russell
Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club
Vol. 114, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1987), pp. 183-190
Published by: Torrey Botanical Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2996129
Page Count: 8
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Castanea dentata (Marsh.) Borkh. was a major forest tree in the eastern United States before an introduced blight killed the chestnut trees in the early 20th century. Its post-glacial migration, especially north of the Wisconsin terminal moraine, was apparently slower than other genera found in association with it in the 20th century. Analysis of historical documents indicates that chestnut trees were restricted to moist but well-drained, acid loam soils. Chestnut had little success on the coastal plain or where drainage was poor. In areas of its greatest dominance, many trees were of rootcrown sprout origin and seedling establishment was not common. This suggests that its slow migration, as indicated by the palynological record, may have been caused by a paucity of appropriate sites for seedling establishment north of the Wisconsin terminal moraine, before adequate leaching of lime and establishment of good drainage, especially near sites of pollen accumulation. The apparent anomaly in its migration rate may also arise from comparing the migration of this species north of the terminal moraine with that of other associated genera. The palatability of its fruits and the coincidence of its migration with the development of agriculture also suggest that its spread into New England may have been associated with cultural changes in native American populations.
Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club © 1987 Torrey Botanical Society