A Family Adventure

Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Chestnut tree first aid

April 17, 2014
Emilie Phillips

We have American Chestnut in our yard. Most of them are small shrubs constantly battling blight. But we have one that has grown to a 6″ diameter tree. Last year I decided to try to preserve the tree. From what I read online, if you find a canker from the blight fungus on the tree, you can pack it with mud to kill the fungus. I ended up wrapping several sections of the tree that I thought could be cankers, but I was not sure.

Monday, I stopped to check out my American chestnut tree on my walk. Unfortunately, I discovered a section of split bark that looked fresh and I did not remember from last year.

Closeup of canker on chestnut tree

Closeup of canker

When I stepped back, I could see a whole red area surrounding the split bark.

Red infected area

Red infected area

This is the first time I have been able to identify a large section of blight, so maybe the tree was OK last year.

Given the size of the canker and the fact that the sap is flowing in the trees around here, I decided I needed to treat it immediately or face significant damage to the tree. I masking taped the tree to mark the area I wanted to treat. Then I applied mud and wrapped it with plastic.

Chestnut tree wrapped with mud packing

completed mud packing

This time I used a roll of self adhering carpet protection. I am not sure it was any better than the nonadhesive plastic sheets I used last time, but it was what I could find.

I decided to unwrap all the old bandages from last year. Their dirt was still very moist and alive. I left the dirt attached and waited a few days for it to fall off on its own. Once the dirt fell off, I could see cracked bark in a couple places, but I did not see the red coloring. That could just be because the bark was still fairly muddy. So I will keep checking for a few weeks.

Chestnut burr

Chestnut burr

While I was working on the tree, I discovered a burr from a chestnut. That means my tree must be mature enough to produce female flowers even if I did not see them last year.


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