American chestnut topic of free Fernwood talk

Published 4:19 pm Thursday, April 14, 2016

(Submitted photo)

(Submitted photo)

An expert on plant genomics and its importance to the American chestnut tree is coming to southwest Michigan.

Jeanne Romero-Severson, a professor of biology at the University of Notre Dame, is scheduled to speak on the topic at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 16, at Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve, which is located at 13988 Range Line Road in Niles.

The free event is being hosted by Fernwood and the Indiana Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation.

Romero-Severson was a keynote speaker at the annual meeting of The American Chestnut Foundation and the Schatz Tree Genetics Colloquium at Penn State University in October 2015.

One of the most devastating ecological disasters in American history was the introduction of Asian blight into the population of the American Chestnut tree.

In 1904, one in four trees in the eastern forest was an American chestnut. By 1940, four billion trees were dead from Georgia to Maine.

Thirty-five years ago the American Chestnut Foundation began a restoration breeding program to incorporate blight resistance into the American chestnut tree.

Today, plant genomics continues to be an important aspect in the health and safety of American chestnut.

For more information, contact Tom Wrasse at