chestnut, not only by reason of their direct effect where they kill the tree outright, but also by exposing its interior to the attacks of fungi and insects. In addition, such fires impoverish the soil by burning out the humus, thus materially lessening its fertility. Reproduction also receives a setback because seedlings, young sprouts, or nuts lying on the ground ready for germination, are easily killed. Forest fires have been abundant throughout the range of the chestnut tree, and it is reasonably certain that they have been much more frequent since the white man has settled these parts of North America. In the southern Appalachians, the deadly work of fire, followed by insects and fungi, is to be seen on every hand. In this connection the following citations give us some conception of the general condition of the chestnut in the southern Appalachians.
Dr. Mohr, speaking of the chestnut in Alabama, says:
The chestnut, usually one of the most frequent trees of these forests, is at present rarely found in perfection. The older trees mostly show signs of decay, and the seedlings, as well as the coppice growth proceeding from the stumps, are more or less stunted. It is asserted by the old settlers that this tree is dying out all over the mountainous regions, where at the beginning of the second half of the century it was still abundant and in perfection.
W. W. Ashe, says:
For many years the chestnut on the lower mountains in the southeastern portion of the state has been dying out, a few trees at a time.… Some of these are killed by the two-lined chestnut borer, but while this decline is in part due to the ravages of the borer, it seems to be due more to excessive burning and to the consequent destruction of humus and impoverishment of the soil.
W. P. Corsa, states:
From causes not well understood, there is a marked decline in the vigor of the chestnut throughout the broad area of territory in the southern states where the white man found this tree among the most thrifty of the original forests. Down to the first quarter of the present century there seems to have been no mention of a trouble in the chestnuts of that section. Within the memory of residents of the Gulf States the chestnut flourished in all their higher lands. In point of time the trouble seems to have begun in the most southern limit of chestnut growth, and there the destruction has been most complete. It has pushed its encroachments throughout Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, and is now reported in the strongholds of chestnut growth in North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
Buttrick, in a study of the conditions in North Carolina, says:
- Mohr, Charles, loc. cit., p. 61.
- Ashe, W. W., "Chestnut in Tennessee." State Geol. Survey of Tennessee, published in cooperation with the Forest Service, U. S. Dept. of Agr. Bull., 10-B, p. 11, 1912.
- Corsa, W. P., "Nut Culture in the United States," Unnumbered Bull. of Div. of Pomology, U. S. Dept. of Agric, 1896, p. 78.
- Quoted by permission, from the manuscript of a report on the chestnut in North Carolina, prepared by P. L. Buttrick, under the joint direction of the