Commander-in-leaf

Dr. Martin Cipollini addresses former President Jimmy Carter at Carter Center chestnut tree dedication.

CAPTION: Dr. Martin Cipollini addresses former President Jimmy Carter and others at the Carter Center’s chestnut tree orchard dedication.

President Jimmy Carter at dedication.Dana Professor of Biology Martin Cipollini has cultivated quite the professional network in his quest to restore the American chestnut tree to its former glory. A year ago, we told you about his radio appearance with Rolling Stones keyboardist and environmental activist Chuck Leavell. Now he’s at it again, this time addressing an audience that included former President Jimmy Carter at the dedication of a new chestnut orchard on the grounds of the Carter Center in Atlanta. The longtime Berry professor was speaking in his role as scientific coordinator of the Georgia Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation.

A dominant species in American forests prior to a devastating blight in the early 20th century, the chestnuts are making a comeback thanks to the efforts of TACF, which has planted more than 500 orchards from Maine to Alabama. Cipollini and his students have coordinated the planting of more than 7,000 American-Chinese hybrids at approximately 200 sites in Georgia alone, including several orchards at Berry that produce seedlings for the disease-resistance breeding program.

“For more than a decade, Berry has been the center of the chestnut restoration project in Georgia,” Cipollini explained. “Students have been invaluable to our success. Their efforts have included helping with tree breeding, harvesting, planting, and orchard maintenance tasks at Berry and at numerous other sites throughout Georgia.”

By student writer Katherine Edmonds

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