They were among New Jersey’s tallest trees, majestically rising 120 feet from the forest floor. Their rot-resistant wood was prized to make shingles, railroad ties, telegraph poles – and coffins. Their nuts, which fell with reliable abundance each fall, not only provided food for wildlife, but also served as a cash crop for some people, who collected and sent the nuts to New York and other cities, where they were roasted and sold on street corners… The effort by Rutgers to study a protected stand of American chestnuts and American-Asian hybrids is taking place at Duke Farms in Somerset County. Workers removed stands of Norway maple and other invasive trees from the grounds several years ago, leaving gaps in the forest. The Rutgers research team, led by Brad Hillman, a plant pathologist and biologist, decided to use those gaps to plant chestnut trees. In November 2010, they planted 270 saplings that had been grown from seed in a greenhouse. So far, none are showing signs of blight, said Christina Kaunzinger, a senior ecologist at Rutgers.
/ / / Researchers work on chestnut tree hybrid that can thrive in N.J. woods