Sadly, likely not an Amer­i­can chest­nut

The Washington Post - - FREE FOR ALL - Will Daniels, Lu­ray

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.

CRAIG HUD­SON FOR THE WASHINGTON POST

A tree un­der a starry sky in Shenan­doah Na­tional Park in 2014.

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