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The American chestnut tree will be the subject of the November meeting of Whitfield-Murray Historical Society. It is open to the public and takes place on November 16, 2008, at 2:30 p.m. at Crown Gardens and Archives in Dalton, Georgia.

American Chestnut Tree

Many of the older people of Murray County remembered the American Chestnut tree with fondness and reverence. My father and grandparents recalled going out into the mountains to pick chestnuts. They said the American Chestnut tree had become extinct. The American Chestnut Blight did very nearly destroy the trees. [1, 2] The idea of losing any tree was sad enough, but the enormity of it didn't strike me until I saw historic photos of the huge American Chestnut trees of the Appalachian forests. In old photos, people standing next to the trees look tiny. One is reminded of California's giant redwoods. The tree is struggling to make a comeback, but usually dies young.

Scaly-Bark Hickory Nuts
We used to love going out into the mountains to pick "scaly-bark" hickory nuts. Our neighbor, Margaret Wilson, particularly loved to pick them. She taught us to look for "scaly barks." The scaly-bark, or shaggy bark hickory nut has a thinner shell and a plumper, juicier nutmeat than the more common pignut hickory nut, which has a thick shell, is hard to crack, and doesn't have enough nutmeat to make it worthwhile for anyone but a squirrel to try to dig out the meat. In the summertime, Mrs. Wilson would invite my family over, and we would sit on the grass with a big grocery sack full of scaly-bark hickory nuts and a hammer. We would crack nuts and pick out the meat to eat. Usually, we would have homemade ice cream, and all of us would take turns turning the crank. Read more of my Appalachian memories...





FOOTNOTES:
1. Wikipedia. The American Chestnut blight. Accessed 07 Nov 2007. The American Chestnut tree blight began in the early 1900's, driving the tree to extinction by 1940.

2. Live Science. "Nearly Extinct American Chestnut Tree Found" Accessed 07 Nov 2007.

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