Back to Nature: The Blight of the Ozark Chinquapin

My Tuesday blogs are dedicated to experiencing the great outdoors. I feature anything from park events to Natural State destinations worth seeing. Join me each week to get back to nature.

Jill M. Rohrbach

Dr. Fred Paitte from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville will discuss his recent findings and talk about the possible future reintroduction of the Ozark chinquapin this Saturday, June 5 at Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area in Rogers. The free program is a 2 p.m. at the park visitor center.

Around 1900 a chestnut blight was unintentionally introduced into the United States on some nursery stock destined for the New York Botanical Garden. Arkansas’ native Ozark chinquapin trees are in the chestnut family and were affected by the blight. When the disease reached the Ozarks it left an estimated 3.7 billion dead chestnut and Ozark chinquapin trees in its path.

According to Steve Chyrchel at Hobbs, we have Ozark chinquapins in northwest Arkansas, but most, if not all, are still affected by the blight. He says they grow only to 10 or 15 feet, then die back to the ground, only to re-spout and then die back, again and again. He adds that only a few actually bear nuts.

Piatte has done extensive research on the blight’s affect on the chestnut tree, and in the last year has conducted further studies at Hobbs State Park – Conservation Area on the affect of the blight on our Ozark chinquapins.

The presentation is part of the Friends of Hobbs Speaker Series. Call the park at 479-789-5000 for more information.

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