Promoting Forest Health in Kentucky

Most bourbon whiskey is made in Kentucky, and federal law requires all bourbon to be aged in white oak barrels. USDA Forest Service researchers and partners are teaming up to advance the sustainability and restoration of white oak resources across the South. This research, along with forest health research on the American chestnut and other…  More 

Testing Blight Resistance in American Chestnuts

The American chestnut (Castanea dentata) was a keystone tree species in the eastern U.S., once found in the forest overstory from Maine to Georgia. The loss of the “mighty giant” to chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica), a fungal disease accidentally imported from Asia in the early 1900s, reduced the once dominant chestnuts to remnant understory sprouts.…  More 

Trees in Protected Areas

Conservation goals range anywhere from aesthetics to survival. Among the most important of those is ensuring that an ecosystem is resilient to disturbances and provides as many different functions as possible. According to an assessment by a USDA Forest Service cooperating researcher, those qualities can be quantified using two metrics: rarity and evolutionary distinctiveness. Rarity…  More 

Saving the Torreya

A century ago, about half a million torreya trees grew in the wild. Today, there are fewer than 1,000. Is extinction imminent, or can the species be saved? “I’m more optimistic now, after the Torreya Tree of Life Workshop,” says USDA Forest Service geneticist Dana Nelson. “The workshop brought a large group of enthusiastic people…  More 

Conserving Eastern Hemlock

Where can you go to find an eastern hemlock tree? Although threatened by the hemlock woolly adelgid, eastern hemlock has an extensive range. “Eastern hemlock grows throughout the southern Appalachians,” says U.S. Forest Service collaborator and ecologist Kevin Potter. Potter is also a forestry faculty member at North Carolina State University. “Hemlock grows in the…  More 

Carolina Hemlock Populations: Isolated and Imperiled

Hemlocks are under attack. U.S. Forest Service scientists and their partners are working to save the native conifers from the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA), an invasive insect from Japan. Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana) trees can survive HWA infestation for a decade or more but often die within four years. Carolina hemlocks grow in tiny, isolated…  More 

Eucalyptus or Loblolly: Which Uses More Water?

When asked which tree uses more water, the native, industry favorite loblolly pine or the ultra-fast growing immigrant from Australia, Eucalyptus, U.S. Forest Service biological scientist Chris Maier had a quick answer: both. “Growing wood requires water,” says Maier. Loblolly and slash pines currently serve as the main sources of wood fiber in the South,…  More 

Giant Stag Beetles

Up to 30 percent of all forest insect species depend on wood that is dead or dying. “Such species are among the most threatened insects in Europe,” says U.S. Forest Service scientist Michael Ulyshen. “However, very little is known about their diversity or conservation status in North America.” In the U.S., the giant stag beetle…  More 

Hybrids in the Seed Orchards

Shortleaf pine is under siege, and one of the threats has emerged in seed orchards. “In some shortleaf seed orchards, 10 percent of trees are hybrids,” says U.S. Forest Service research geneticist Dana Nelson. “Although the majority we’d consider shortleaf pine, even a few hybrids is enough to raise concern.” To some extent, shortleaf and…  More 

Shortleaf Pine: What’s in the Genes?

Despite shortleaf pine’s importance, relatively little is known about its genetics. “The lack of knowledge is especially apparent in this era of molecular genetics and genomics,” says U.S. Forest Service research geneticist Dana Nelson. Nelson and his colleagues recently reviewed shortleaf pine genetics, and their implications for restoration and management. The research team included Oklahoma…  More