On April 16 & 17, 2019, members of the Niskayuna Tree Council planted 10 American Chestnut trees with kindergarten classes from the Glencliff and Hillside elementary schools. The American Chestnut tree used to be prevalent in eastern forests of North America, from Maine to Georgia. It was one of the largest trees in the forest, growing to be over 100 feet tall, and in many areas composed over 25% of the forest. It was best known for its fruit and wood and was not only important to humans, but also was an important food source for deer, bears, squirrels, and turkeys. It was considered “King” of the forest.
However, in 1904, a chestnut blight was discovered at the NY Botanical Garden and the blight spread from there. By 1950, the American Chestnut was essentially wiped out throughout its entire range. Recently, a cross between the American Chestnut and Asian trees that is disease resistant and 94% American Chestnut is being reintroduced.
It is these trees, with the help of the Niskayuna kindergarten classes, that we planted at Glencliff and Hillside schools and in Zenner Park. With proper care and attention, the American Chestnut can make a comeback, and these students can take pride in knowing they helped make this happen.