Ancient American Chestnut makes surprising appearance on Pelle tree farm

Thanks to Harry Pelle, KWOA board member, for sharing this story

While marking fifty acres for a timber stand improvement project on their property on April 23rd, Harry and Karen Pelle along with Chris Will, their consulting forester, found quite a welcome surprise. They discovered a couple of American Chestnut root sprouts. Harry admits there have been other aspiring chestnut seedlings over the thirty years the Pelle’s have been traversing their tree farm near Bradfordsville but they didn’t know what to look for.

The day before, Earth Day, they had helped plant 1200 American Chestnuts at Eastern Kentucky University’s Taylor Fork Ecological Area.

Earth Day 2016 - EKU faculty, staff, students and volunteers join The American Chestnut Foundation to plant 1200 American Chestnuts in Taylor Fork Ecological Area on Arbor Day
Earth Day 2016 – EKU faculty, staff, students and volunteers join The American Chestnut Foundation to plant 1200 American Chestnuts in Taylor Fork Ecological Area on Arbor Day

The effort with The American Chestnut Foundation seeks to restore the iconic tree as a staple in eastern forests.

April 22, 2016 – Karen and Harry Pelle volunteer with EKU American Chestnut planting
April 22, 2016 – Karen and Harry Pelle volunteer with EKU American Chestnut planting

 

That recent experience may have made the Pelle’s more aware of the chestnut’s latest effort to re-establish itself in the territory where it once reigned.

The Pelle’s marked the spot where they found the tree sprouts on Chris’s GPS and with a tee post.

April 23, 2016 – Newly discovered American Chestnut sprouts on Pelle tree farm
April 23, 2016 – Newly discovered American Chestnut sprouts on Pelle tree farm

The Pelle’s also cleared the area around the sprouts of fallen tops and brush. They intend to monitor the potential trees’ progress and just maybe these two will beat the Chestnut Blight that decimated the regions mighty giants. It may be the next generation of Pelles that will have to continue the watch over the seedlings.

The newest trees are in good company. Harry has an American Chestnut restoration grove just down the hill from the little guys. He likes to think the trees’ ancestors are looking down the hill and cheering on their new cousins in the fight to beat the blight. Harry thinks the finding of the sprouts “might have been the chestnuts’ way of saying ‘thanks for the help.’”