Sadly, likely not an American chestnut
I’m disappointed when newspaper captions identify “a tree” or “a bird.” Can’t we be told the common name of the living thing — sugar maple or America robin? So I give The Post credit for its caption of the “chestnut tree . . . in Shenandoah National Park” in the photograph accompanying Elizabeth Bruenig’s Oct. 5 Friday Opinion column, “The relief of autumn.”
If only it could be true that a large chestnut survived in our area. The American chestnut tree was wiped out by a bark fungus starting about 100 years ago, not only in the area of Shenandoah National Park but also across the east, more than 3 billion trees in total. Occasionally, one can see chestnut shoots sprouting from long-dead trunks, but these, too, succumb to the blight before they reach tree size.
It is possible that the photograph captures a chestnut oak, which is indeed very common in the Shenandoahs.
A tree under a starry sky in Shenandoah National Park in 2014.