American chestnut to be planted at Bruce Drysdale Elementary

PLANT A TREE AND YOU WILL SEE: Students and community members planted an American chestnut tree at Bruce Drysdale Elementary School during an Arbor Day celebration in May 2016. On Nov. 16 another American chestnut sapling will be planted on the school grounds. Photo courtesy of Hendersonville Tree Board

Press release from Hendersonville Tree Board:

HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. — Already, three American chestnut trees grow well and strong on the campus of Bruce Drysdale Elementary School in downtown Hendersonville. On Thursday, Nov.16, another will be carefully and enthusiastically planted by fifth-graders who have been chosen to help with the chore. Wes Burlingame, a nurseryman and member of Hendersonville Tree Board, and Ben Jarrett, southeast regional science coordinator for American Chestnut Foundation, will supervise. The 2-foot-high sapling is provided by the Tree Board and the American Chestnut Foundation. Bruce Drysdale Principal BJ Laughter said he is pleased to add yet another chestnut tree to the grove on school property.

“The students at Bruce Drysdale are educated about the value of trees and we use our campus as an outdoor classroom for environmental studies and experiential learning. We are thrilled to work with the American Chestnut Foundation as their constant research hopes to bring back the grand trees that once thrived here in the mountains,” Laughter said.

The American Chestnut Foundation, a nonprofit organization with national headquarters in Asheville, conducts basic and applied research to develop a blight-resistant American chestnut tree (Castanea dentata) for reintroduction into forest ecosystems within the native range of this species. At the beginning of the 20th century, the fungal pathogen responsible for chestnut blight was accidentally imported into the U.S. from Asia. It was first detected in New York in 1904, spreading rapidly throughout the eastern forests. By 1950, the fungus had eliminated the American chestnut as a mature forest tree. Before the species was devastated by the chestnut blight, it was one of the most important forest trees throughout its range, and it was generally considered the finest chestnut tree in the world.

Hendersonville Tree Board provides the American chestnut to Bruce Drysdale at no charge through its NeighborWoods project. Over the years, approximately 50 trees have been planted at the school through this program. The Tree Board’s program aims to assist residents, businesses, and public entities to plant and maintain trees for health, beauty, wildlife, and to increase our urban forest coverage. In this case, the research at the American Chestnut Foundation is also being supported.

To learn more about the NeighborWoods project and how individuals and organizations can participate, or to make a donation to the NeighborWoods Tree Fund, visit the Tree Board website at or email More information on American Chestnut Foundation is at

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