For the tree guys- Ozark Chestnuts found

I will one up that. Finding Ozark Chinquapin is not news but this is.

A summary from Dr. Paul Sisco posted on the TACF Growers listserv at PSU.EDU -

"Taylor Perkins was able to distinguish a morphologically and genetically distinct “variety” of chinkapin in north Alabama and northwestern Georgia that corresponded to a “species” that Ashe in 1925 called Castanea alabamensis. Taylor was able to examine Ashe’s type specimen of C. alabamensis, which had been preserved in the Herbarium of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Johnson (1988), who authored the last extensive description of North American Castanea, thought that C. alabamensis was extinct in its native range but had been an eastern disjunct population of what Johnson called C. pumila var. ozarkensis, the tree-like Ozark chinkapin of northwestern Arkansas, southwest Missouri, and northeastern Oklahoma. Other authors had said that C. alabamensis was equivalent to C. x neglecta, a putative hybrid of C. dentata and C. pumila.

Taylor, with the help of TACF members such as David Morris and Marty Schulman of Alabama, was able to locate living specimens of Castanea in northern Alabama and northwestern Georgia that looked exactly like Ashe’s type specimen of C. alabamensis.

Figure 1 in the PDF file shows the morphological differences between C. pumila var. ozarkensis, C. alabamensis, and C. dentata. The nuclear DNA analysis, as shown in Figures 2 and 4, showed that the C. alabamensis samples formed a group distinct from Ozark chinkapin, Allegheny chinkapin and American chestnut.

Taylor’s conclusions were that specimens of C. alabamensis as described by Ashe (1925) are still alive in their native range, that they are morphologically distinct from Ozark and Allegheny chinkapin and American chestnut, and that they are not the product of hybridization between chinkapin and chestnut.

These “Alabama chinkapins” are trees with leaves that look a lot like those of American chestnut. We first encountered specimens in “The Pocket”, a region of northwestern Georgia, and collected leaf specimens as “American chestnut”. When these trees flowered, however, we were shocked to see they had burs characteristic of chinkapin, having one nut per bur. Hill Craddock can tell you much more about this near mistake in collection. He actually sent leaves of these “Pocket Chinkapins” to Tom Kubisiak as representative of American chestnut in northwest Georgia. But because they have chloroplast DNA that is different from that of most American chestnut, Tom Kubisiak did not include them in his analysis of genetic diversity in American chestnut published in the TACF Journal in 2003 and a National Park Service publication in 2004.

This past Friday I worked in a beautiful 11-yr-old chestnut orchard on Chestnut Ridge in south central Tennessee. The trees there are 30-40 feet tall. See attached photo with the trees in the background, including one that is blooming. I was amazed to see chinkapin burs in the canopy of one of the tallest trees in the group. It is an example of C. alabamensis as described in this preprint.

If I’ve made a mistake in this description, I’m sur