Reports by Torreya Guardians Volunteers
Listed chronologically from most recent
• February 2023/ Buford Pruitt / Remembering squirrels are important local seed dispersers
BUFORD PRUITT, a wildlife biologist, is a very successful planter of Florida Torreya at his rural home near Brevard, NC. Visit Pruitt's Torreya webpage on this website. This month he contributed a 3-page advocacy essay: "Torrey Squirrels"
"...Torreya Guardians already know that the Eastern Gray Squirrel can affect our assisted migration tactics. This rodent (1) raids mother trees of their seeds, (2) steals potted seeds, and (3) caches seeds in developed areas and wildlands that can germinate and grow into naturally occurring individuals and colonies.
Although we know this third thing, and we are happy about it when new seedlings 'volunteer,' we have historically focused on the first two annoyances. In my view, this is because our historical charge has been to propagate and migrate. Obviously, we cannot increase the population until we learn how to propagate and nurture it. I believe we have now done those two things well enough to start looking at natural colonization strategies...."
• February 2023/ Connie Barlow / Using our Torreya photos and learnings in my photo-essay to help Coast Redwood planters
Although Genus TORREYA will always be my top priority as a citizen volunteer, beginning in 2014 I started video documentation and advocacy of assisted migration for other tree species, too. These are listed and linked in my "Climate, Trees, and Legacy" webpage.
Owing to 18 years of an itinerant lifestyle with my husband, Michael Dowd, (which ended during the covid lockdowns), I have been blessed with in-forest experience of COAST REDWOOD. I was surprised that I learned far more about this stunningly miraculous species by many months of exploration of regrowth redwood forests rather than the old growth in parks.
As with Torreya, Coast Redwoods have lignotubers and a nearly immortal ability to use prolific basal sprouting to regrow giant trees from the same root system, post-logging (and post-fire).
In 2023 journalist interest in "assisted migration" has soared, and Torreya Guardians is of interest to them.
But of greatest interest are the old horticultural plantings of this California giant that document how fog belts of the Pacific Northwest (even B.C.) already superb habitat for helping redwoods track climate warming and drying.
To help both the journalists and the northward planters learn about redwood's growth capacities, I found that PHOTOS and LEARNINGS about genus Torreya that our group has made actually offer important insights for the assisted migration of Coast Redwood. Therefore, I created a multi-part PHOTO-ESSAY, "Growth Capacities of COAST REDWOOD". Two sections feature what we have learned about genus TORREYA: "Fallen Branches Sprout by Layering" and, especially, "Propagation from Cuttings."
• January 2023/ Paul Camire / Photo update of Michigan torreyas plus news of Chinese Torreya video
Editor's Note: In addition to sending photos of his within-forest plantings of torreya in Michigan all protected by deer-proof cages, PAUL CAMIRE alerted me to a Chinese video (on youtube) of that country's native Torreya grandis.
Connie Barlow writes:
Visit that section to access the video and to read in the caption what I learned about this genus including the likelihood that harvesting of the seed for processing into a highly regarded "nut" food occurs well before the ripening is complete. Early harvesting ensures that the seed coat has not yet hardened, and thus does not need to be removed.
• January 2023/ Connie Barlow / Our CALIFORNIA TORREYA webpage is updated and expanded
Torreya Guardians now has a Torreya californica subgroup! Our website made it possible for citizens in the home range of California Torreya to connect with, thus far, one volunteer planter (with an excellent forested ravine on his property) in the Pacific Northwest.
For many years, Californians have been contributing photos of their own native Torreya trees (close cousin of Florida Torreya) that they encounter in the wilds of the Coast Range and Sierras. I then post the photos in the California section of this website. Initially, posting the Torreya californica photos was simply to help our own planters of this genus in the eastern USA locate suitable habitats.
It is gratifying that "assisted migration" has now begun for California torreya well before it might qualify for listing as an endangered species. Endangered species listing of Florida Torreya in 1984 made it difficult for we citizens, beginning in 2005, to access genetically diverse seeds for our northward planting efforts.
Below is the new and expanded Table of Contents for the California Torreya page:
• December 2022/ Michael Heim / A Wollemia Christmas Tree in Wisconsin (potted, of course)
Like our own glacial relict, Torreya taxifolia, Wollemia is making a last stand in the coolest place it could find: the bottom of deep, nearly inaccessible canyon in southeastern Australia. Sadly, unlike Torreya, there is as yet no citizen or governmental project aiming to "rewild" this remarkable tree into a poleward location (are there any in the southern hemisphere?) where it could thrive over a larger geographic range.
PHOTO LEFT: Our Wisconsin Torreya planter sent us this photo of the Christmas tree that he, as a self-described "plant nerd," is enjoying this season. It is none other than the famous "living fossil" plant of Australia, discovered alive in 1994. This is the monotypic genus Wollemia.
All Wollemia here in the USA in horticultural circulation are rooted branchlets. Mike sets this potted specimen outdoors in the warm seasons, bringing it back inside each winter.
PHOTO RIGHT: Earlier this month, Mike sent Torreya Guardians this photo of an ericad shrub native to the southern Appalachians that he had planted in his Wisconsin forest: Pieris floribunda.
• December 2022/ Eric Hongisto / Documented another large CALIFORNIA TORREYA (Bolinas Ridge)
ERIC HONGISTO writes:I found another great grove near top of Bolinas Ridge, above Samuel P Taylor park maybe 200 trees inside a mature Fir and Bay mixed forest.NOTE BY EDITOR, Connie Barlow: I like to post photos by Californians who are finding new giant California Torreya trees usually by bushwhacking into likely areas. It is a reminder that there is no scientific evidence on size or age contraints for Florida torreya. By the time botanical documentation occurred, settlers had been utilizing the valuable wood. As well, I have seen photos of Asian species (T. grandis and T. nucifera) that are as big as those documented in California.
Most of the Nutmegs [Torreya] are on the young side. The best one was a huge double clonal structure. PHOTO LEFT.
FYI, 5 miles from parking lot, if you use 'proper trails' and then some bushwack down from ridge (approx. 800') to the tree. 38.01850&° N, 122.73963° W
• December 2022/ Buford Pruitt / December 2022 photos of 14 torreyas planted in my forest, BREVARD, NC
LEFT: Photos of one of the biggest and one of the smallest torreya trees.
EDITOR'S NOTE: See photos of all 14 trees, along with other photos and reports, in the chronologically organized Brevard NC torreyas.
That page goes back to 2012, based on seeds Pruitt received from the 2010 and 2011 harvests by Torreya Guardians.
Pruitt reports that height differences are primarily attributed to differences in sunlight. He also reports that none have yet grown any reproductive buds, and that deer haven't browsed the leaders and long branches that protrude over or through the cages. He keeps them caged primarily to prevent buck antler-rubbing (and is thankful that his neighbors hunt deer on their properties).
• December 2022/ Paul Camire / News article links Torreya at Caroline Dormon preserve (Louisiana) with Torreya Guardians planting at Junaluska, NC
In 2008, the first group planting of Florida Torreya by Torreya Guardians took place at Corneille Bryan Native Garden in Lake Junaluska, NC.
I found this undated article online (probably from the Charlotte Observer). It shows that Caroline Dormon of Louisiana visited that garden long ago and several Torreya Guardians visited in 2018 the giant female Torreya that Caroline had planted at Dormon Preserve.
As it turns out, the writer of this article, Elizabeth Lawrence, was a famous gardener herself. As presented on the website of Elizabeth Lawrence House and Garden:
Elizabeth Lawrence (1904-1985) is an internationally known garden writer. She is regarded as one of three preeminent figures in the horticultural history of the Southeast, sharing this short list with Thomas Jefferson and J.C. Raulston. She is also listed among the top twenty-five gardeners of all time. The work she did while designing, writing and gardening at her home in Charlotte, North Carolina, contributed greatly to that status.
• December 2022/ Connie Barlow / "Budcapping" the leader growth is added to deer-prevention section of our PROPAGATION page
A Minnesota Public Radio News story on DEER-PROOFING WHITE PINE SEEDLINGS in Minnesota was added to our webpage here of Best Practices for PROPAGATION. The article was published 22 November 2022 and is titled, "Bringing back the white pine, a foundational American tree", by Dan Kraker, Deer Lake, Minnesota.
BUDCAP THE LEADER WITH PAPER AND A STAPLE
... So John Rajala's father, Jack, started fiddling with different ways to discourage deer from munching the trees. They experimented with rotten egg mixes, and different commercial products. But what worked best was stapling a folded piece of paper over the bud. Simple, but backbreaking and incredibly time-intensive work. It's called "budcapping," and now it's used by pretty much anyone who plants trees in the North Woods.
Jack Rajala detailed the work in his book titled Bringing Back the White Pine. John Rajala said over the years his family has planted, and budcapped, millions of white pines. You see evidence of it all throughout the forest, small squares of white paper topping tiny trees dotting the forest floor.
Note: Wisconsin Torreya planter, Mike Heim, reports: "I'm already budcapping my tuliptrees with knee-high nylons held on by twist-ties from supermarket cilantro bundles."
• November 2022/ Sharon Mohney / Virginia planter chooses sites with fern and lycopod evergreen camouflage
Sharon Mohney in Buchanan, VA captured this photo of an unbrowsed seedling camouflaged by an evergreen fern.
Notice that this site has two flags. When freeplanting the seeds in November 2020, she marked each site with a flag. Now, when she spots a seedling, she installs a second flag, so that the seedling locations are documented and thus can be confirmed in future years as to survival and possible demise by deer browsing.
She wrote: "The plant in the foreground of my photo is, I believe, Diphasiastrum digitatum rather than a Selaginella. I have used it as a protective cover for my torreya plantings when Christmas ferns weren't nearby."
Editor's note: This innovation in using a clonal evergreen lycopod for camouflage is very interesting, so I added this photo and caption to the camouflage section of our Freeplanting webpage.
• November 2022/ Connie Barlow / 83 seeds from 2022 harvest planted in DEER-FREE forest slopes; ongoing experiments with 2021 harvested seeds
My share (some 400 seeds) from this year's harvest of torreya seeds from one horticultural planting in Clinton, NC, is mostly being used at or near my home in Ypsilanti, Michigan, for experimental plantings especially at exceedingly rare DEER-FREE SITES along our major river. (Deer herbivory has been so problematic for volunteer planters that losses have been great or investments in deer-proof cages have been necessary.)
Each DEER-FREE site is located on a downtown stretch of steeply sloping forested edges of the Huron River. These were reinforced long ago by solid concrete lower portions (red outline on map above) or a series of concrete and asphalt blocks onto which trees and woody plants (especially Amur Honeysuckle) have taken hold. Natural regeneration over many decades have produced patches of good soil into which I put seeds (usually 4 to 6 inches deep, to escape detection by rodents) of America's most endangered conifer tree.
PHOTO ABOVE shows the unusual cracked seedcoats of a small portion of the 2022 harvest, through which the vibrant red seed itself is seen clearly, not yet rotting. So these I needed to put into final destinations immediately. As well, the cracked seed farthest right displays a dark indentation on its round, non-germinating end (germination happens at the pointy end). So some of these seeds I also planted this month (turquoise outline above).
PHOTO BELOW shows the remaining seeds from 2021 harvest being tested in a safe, outdoor container. Scrutiny of seed characteristics (especially "slit" v. "unslit" over the germination point after a second full summer) may help us predict which seeds require only one additional winter to sprout. (Visit the Torreya Guardians PROPAGATION page for many more learnings and recommendations.)
• November 2022/ Connie Barlow / New VIDEO summarizes history of TORREYA GUARDIANS
EPISODE 35: Torreya Guardians - Reflections by Connie Barlow
While cleaning and sorting torreya seeds freshly harvested from a private home in Clinton, NC, Connie extemporaneously delivers the history of significant beginnings, achievements, and frustrating institutional obstacles that she and other volunteers encountered during nearly two decades of action and advocacy in behalf of this endangered subcanopy tree.
The final 5 minutes is where she explains the new governmental proposal to authorize "assisted migration" for climate threatened species, such as this glacial relict.
Length: 43 minutes, with timecoded table of topics in the youtube caption. Access the full list of TG videos.
• November 2022/ Eric Hongisto / Photo of large CALIFORNIA TORREYA north of San Francisco
ERIC HONGISTO writes:"This torreya is one of the largest in the three known groves at Fort Ross State Historic Park.NOTE BY EDITOR, Connie Barlow: Beginning about two years ago, several Californians have been sending me photos and ideas about Florida Torreya's California cousin. Although there is no doubt that the species could do well in the subcanopy of Pacific Northwest forests, the rugged topography of this Coast Range section of California affords the trees shady north slopes and deep canyons for healthy living today. I have been adding these new photos, with captions, to the California Torreya webpages I maintain on this website.
This grove has 15 trees connected over 1/4 acre. It is directly on the San Andreas Fault, east of the creek.
You can see the tree being pulled slowly, and adjusting.
On both sides of the fault are old growth redwoods."
• November 2022/ Fred Bess / Report of torreya seed harvest, Cleveland OHIO
November 3:"After the squirrels got a fair number from the two front females, the count is +/- 230 seeds."Update November 6:"As I was mowing the lawn I found an additional 15 seeds under the Torreyas that had apparently dropped off mostly from the big female in the front yard."Access Fred's torreya webpage: Cleveland, Ohio.
• October 2022/ Connie Barlow / Two new articles show our pioneering of "assisted migration" is becoming mainstream
In the OCTOBER 2022 section of the lengthy "Assisted Migration Scholarly Links" webpage on this website, I posted links and excerpts for two really important articles:
• "Last Resort: Moving Endangered Species in Order to Save Them" by Zach St. George, in Yale Environment 360. This is the first substantive news report of a historic proposal in June 2022 by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to amend its regulations in order to expressly authorize "assisted migration" as a tool for not just "protecting" relict species in place but to enable full-out "recovery" by moving them to habitats where they can thrive. (See the August and June entries below on this page, where I excerpted the regulatory proposal.) In this new article, the work of Torreya Guardians is mentioned: "A group of private citizens planted the endangered Florida Torreya, an evergreen in the yew family that is native to riparian areas in Florida and Georgia, far to the north, throughout the eastern United States."
• "Potential for Assisted Migration of Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) to Vancouver Island", by Richard S. Winder et al., was published by Natural Resources Canada. I point to it here because, if we are considered too radical, then what about this professional proposal to move California redwoods to Canada?! (Also, I am referenced in the article for my video documentation of thriving horticultural plantings in the Seattle area.)
• October 2022/ Mike Heim / After two winters and summers, two torreya seedlings have appeared
Mike Heim took photos of two new seedlings that emerged from seeds planted directly into his forest (within a fenced deer exclosure). He wrote: "It's taken 2 winters for them to germinate. Probably more on the way next year." More information on Mike's Hayward, Wisconsin Torreya page.
• October 2022/ Connie Barlow / Info on a wild forest in China containing 2,800 Torreya
A 2022 news report, China: Wild, ancient Torreya Forest in Hunan, China:
EXCERPTS (of English translation): ... It is the city tree of Ningxiang City.... Yueshan Village occupies more than 68% of the forest land, and more than 2,800 wild Torreya trees are hidden in the depths of the forest. They were discovered by the forestry department for the first time around 1990.... A thousand-year-old Torreya tree came into view. The diameter of the trunk was so thick that it took six adults to hold hands to surround it. In the passage of time, it has stood quietly here for more than a thousand years.... The torreya tree likes a humid, low-light and cool climate, and the mountainside with less direct sunlight is the best habitat. The wild ancient torreya community is located in the mountain forest at an altitude of 200 to 500 meters in Yueshan Village, and the villagers living in the surrounding area are not familiar with it.
• September 2022/ Bob Miller / Joyful discovery of a torreya (from seed planted May 2015) by a log while removing invasives
Email from BOB MILLER (Torreya planter near Cincinnati Ohio) to Connie Barlow:"An upside of removing invasive plants from our woods is that I find interesting things. This Torreya is on the south-facing hillside across from the front of our house and is the first I've found there. Looks very happy!"Editor's Note: We have long postulated that the poor success rate of the May 2015 free-planting into wild forest may owe to shallow seed-planting that led to rodents detecting seeds, large local numbers of deer nipping off newly emerged seedlings, or the simple fact that seedlings are difficult to spot amidst fallen leaves. Did this seed (or seedling) benefit from a treefall that kept it hidden?
• September 2022/ Fred Bess / Torreyas at Ohio State University's arboretum doing well.
FRED BESS writes:
"I visited Secrest Arboretum Friday and walked around with the new curator Jason Veil.
He took me to see the two Torreya taxifolia trees they have planted out (photos left.)
Jason is thrilled with the opportunity to get more seeds, either from me or from other sources. I will be sharing a fair number of my tree's seeds with them."
Editor's note: Fred Bess donated 20 seeds to Secrest Arboretum in 2011. (Visit the Secrest Arboretum Torreya page.) Fred is one of our most successful Torreya planters and the first to have his plantings produce seeds as far north as Ohio. Visit his photo-rich Torreya page: Cleveland, Ohio, Torreya.
• September 2022/ Clint Bancroft / Proof that a basal sprout will form on the rooted cutting of the apical tip of a basal stem cut from another torreya
Email from CLINT BANCROFT (Torreya planter in Ocoee watershed of Tennessee) to Connie Barlow:"We have wondered if a rooted apical basal sprout will eventually form its own basal sprouts. This PHOTO shows a basal sprout which has formed on a rooted apical cutting from one the Highlands, NC trees. My tag says it is from a cutting I took there in October 2017."__________
EDITOR'S NOTE: Finally, we have confirmation that not only will a rooted cutting of the apical tip of a basal stem grow into a tree-like (rather than shrubby) form. Now we know that it will also grow basals of its own! This assures us that, as with its wild cousin California Torreya, Florida Torreya grown from apical basal cuttings will indeed be capable of manifesting the tree form again and again no matter what injury may kill the main stem itself. Nobody has tried to guess whether the rootstock itself may endure for perhaps millennia because annual growth rings do not form below the soil. (Even the well-studied Coast Redwood has not had this mystery answered.)
• August 2022/ Connie Barlow / I filed a comment on the proposed federal regulation to eliminate "historical range" as the sole locus for endangered species recovery.
Comment time for this proposed regulation ended August 8, with a total of 553 comments including the COMMENT I POSTED, drawing upon my experience with Torreya Guardians.
I attached a 5-page pdf that, after voicing a YES to the proposal, offered RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION:
1. Create implementation frameworks and policies that are distinct for plants.
2. Encourage nongovernmental entities to use the ESA "exception" for plants.
3. Follow the lead of the USDA Forest Service [in their own "assisted migration" terminology and actions.
4. Facilitate respectful dialogue and understandings of worldview differences.
• Barlow summary of key institutional comments (10 pages PDF)
• August 2022/ Connie Barlow / I spent three weeks improving the wikipedia page on Torreya taxifolia
This revised wikipedia page was a massive undertaking. Over the years, the page had languished into centering on arcane taxonomy and descriptive morphology, while containing factual errors (mostly on noncontroversial topics), and avoiding altogether mention of the central role this species has served in nurturing professional discussion about the merits and risks of assisted migration for climate-stressed plants, especially for "glacial relicts."
I had earned my wikipedia stripes by creating the topical flow with many scholarly references for the (new in 2021) page, "Assisted migration of forests in North America.
But I also learned that it is very difficult to create an objective wikipedia page on aspects of a topic when one carries a strong viewpoint. Established wikipedia editors along the way very much helped me with those learnings.
Because images are so important in our learnings, you will see that I added many of my own photos and charts into the anonymous media commons for posting on wikipedia.
My greatest difficulty was that, while I (as webmaster) ensure that everything is documented on our website, the actions and assertions of the botanical gardens officially in charge of this endangered species are only loosely documented online or are missing altogether. And if one can't point to an online reference, one cannot include the topic in a citable way in a wikipedia page. While one can present the documented actions by one side of a controversy (notably, our documentation of historic groves, our northward plantings, and what we have learned about best planting practices), value statements and arguments must present both sides or not be included at all. Because of the degree of controversy, I usually selected actual quotes rather than attempting to objectively summarize an argument. Finally, a huge benefit of posting information on a wikipedia page (as is also the case on our own Torreya Guardians pages) is that it is ever-after correctable and updatable. Scientific papers published in journals are not.
• August 2022/ Mike Heim / List of S. Appalachian plants growing on my land in WISCONSIN
Florida Torreya is one of many plant species in North America whose historical native range is south (sometimes, far south) of Wisconsin.
Mike Heim's page on the Torreya Guardians website where he reports on his plantings of FLORIDA TORREYA and FLORIDA YEW is here.
We post another photo-rich page, as well, on Mike's experiments with planting species native to the Southern Appalachians and his "Tertiary Rewilding" project (Ginkgo and Metasequoia) here.
IMAGE LEFT: We just posted this tabular list of the species Mike plants for his "Southern and Eastern Assisted Migration of Tree Species" experimentation in Wisconsin. (Larger versions of this image are on both of the webpages linked above.)
• July 2022/ Clint Bancroft / Visits torreya seedling he donated to Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center, Chattanooga TN
CLINT WRITES: "I went to Reflection Riding Arboretum in Chattanooga today and was able to get someone to show me where they planted the Torreyas I gave them 2 years ago.
There were 6 trees donated, and they already had one which was still in a one-gallon pot.
They were only able to locate two of them today, but promise they will locate the remaining trees.
Both the ones I got to see looked sweetly content. One had a new vertical and also had 2 basal sprouts which were not there when I donated the trees. The second had 4 new lateral branches with no vertical growth so far."
PHOTO of Clint alongside one of the picture-perfect torreys at the arboretum. Visit his extensive torreya page at his forested home and land east of Chattanooga.
Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center is near downtown Chattanooga, TN.
• July 2022/ Peter Bane and Julia Chambers / Torreyas survive winter and browsing on the east shore of Lake Michigan
NEW PAGE created for the 2022 photos and reports of both sites.
1. MUSKEGON (Montague) - Peter Bane and Keith Johnson are permaculturalists who received from Connie Barlow 40 seeds in September 2014, from the 2013 harvest. All were germinated in a hoophouse, and the survivors outplanted. As of July 2022, 3 were still alive (heavily browsed by herbivores) in nearly full-sun settings.
2. LUDINGTON (Fountain) - Julia Chambers lives in a forested rural landscape, with a great many deer. Her immediate area is mostly forest, with several small lakes nearby. To the west is mostly farm fields, with some woodlots. To the east is national forest. She received and planted one newly germinated seedling from Connie Barlow in July 2015. She received 40 freshly harvested seeds in November 2015, and she free-planted them outdoors, but either none germinated or rodents found and ate them all. The one seedling planted out of pot is still alive 7 years later, July 2022.
• July 2022/ Fred Bess (Cleveland, OH) / "My cutting-grown female has outdone herself!"
FRED BESS REPORTS (Cleveland, OH): "My cutting-grown female has outdone herself! I have counted close to 100 seeds just on 3 branches (pics of two of them attached). I also find it humorous that the bulk of the seeds are on the side facing the male which, as you know, is a fair distance....
I'm not sure about elsewhere, but I have seen no issues whatsoever with squirrels beating me to the seeds. The squirrels and chipmunks leave the seeds on my trees completely alone. I allow the seeds to fully ripen and harvest without issue. In fact, I missed a half dozen or so Torreya seeds when I harvested last fall and found them under the female trees early this spring. IÕve stuck those into the ground of the front hill. Will keep you posted if they show up this or next spring! My Gala apple is not so lucky. As soon as the apples get half-dollar size, I have to deter the squirrels."
EDITOR'S NOTE: Fred is not only one of our longest-term Florida Torreya planters. He is the record-setter for seed production in the northern states and he regularly photo-documents his progress. Visit Fred's Cleveland OHIO torreya page.
LEARNING: Because torreya seeds appear nearly full size (and round shape) in early July, even professionals may be fooled into harvesting the seeds too early, in their attempt to prevent squirrels from snatching any. Fred will be waiting another 3 to 4 months before these seeds are harvested. The casing of the seed shell is hidden and it must fully harden before the seed is removed.
• June 2022/ Connie Barlow / Proposed federal regulation no longer restricts endangered species to recovery only in "historical range."
FWS Press release quote by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland:
"Climate change and the rapid spread of invasive species pose an ever-increasing threat to native biodiversity. The time to act and use every tool at our disposal is now.... The growing extinction crisis highlights the importance of the Endangered Species Act and efforts to conserve species before declines become irreversible. This effort to update proven conservation tools will help ensure species on the cusp of extinction can recover and thrive for generations to come."
June 7 a proposed revision of the regulations (not the law) of the Endangered Species Act was published in the Federal Register. The above link includes how to submit comments until August 8.
Torreya Guardians, being an umbrella group for citizen planters, does not submit "group" comments but any of us may do so on our own.
For example, I, Connie Barlow, submitted (as an individual) a "Petition to Downlist" Florida Torreya from endangered to threatened, September 2019. The agency published its decision in September 2021. Scroll down to an October 2021 entry on this page to see highlights of the decision, including the key statement that dismisses the relevance of our own successes in northward plantings:"Ultimately, the relative reproductive success of the outplanted groves does not ameliorate the threats currently affecting the species in its historical range (i.e. low population number, rarity of habitat, and disease, USFWS 2010)."You will notice in the image above that "historical range" is being eliminated as the sole locale for effecting species recovery. That would seem to be a good thing. However, because the ESA necessarily focuses on animals (not plants), the steps for undertaking an "experimental population" outside of native range (including for climate change reasons) are fraught with regulatory procedures much more complicated than the "assisted migration" experimentation that would have been included in the 2010 Florida Torreya recovery plan update, had not the Advisory Board voted it down.
Bottom line: I personally am not inclined to file a comment, as uncomplicated citizen actions such as ours will be able to continue using the "exception" for plants (not animals) written into the act and pertaining to the distribution of horticulturally produced seeds. It remains to be seen whether any of the northward botanical gardens obtaining seeds for "safeguarding genetics" from the seed-rich ex situ plantings at Smithgall Woods and Blairsville preserves in north Georgia will ever be made available for any degree of wild "recovery" other than "preventing extinction."
NOTE: 19 MAY 2022 I had submitted a 2-page "Request" for the (newly appointed) director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to review the citizen accomplishments of Torreya Guardians. Following several paragraphs of background and the history of Torreya Guardians actions and accomplishments, I concluded this way:"REQUEST: Please have a high-level, policy staff person visit the Torreya Guardians website: http://www.torreyaguardians.org/ From the home page, click on the link titled, "Case Study of Agency Failure." As well, our "Historic Groves" link is intended to be a strong and visually rich survey of how well the climate in the Appalachians and northward supports this glacial relict's health: notably its ability to fight a range of native diseases that have made the species functionally extinct in its historically native range. As well, do take a look at our documentation of what we have learned, especially to educate and guide volunteer planters via our "Propagation" page. Finally, please consult with USDA climate lead, Chris Swanston, who is well situated to educate conservation scientists in FWS about the forestry research scholarship that has welcomed "assisted migration" as a climate adaptation tool for timber management and forest ecosystem services. A well-regarded summary of the forestry science on this topic is a wikipedia page I coauthored in 2021 with a Canadian: "Assisted migration of forests in North America." I look forward to the possibility of Florida torreya becoming a highlighted achievement of FWS for the 50th anniversary of the ESA, instead of a sad example of ongoing climate denial and hostility toward citizen contributions."
• June 2022/ Clint Bancroft / Precious Norlina NC cutting of a basal tip has rooted!
BACKGROUND: December 2021, PAUL CAMIRE photo-documented the NORLINA TREE in North Carolina and took some basal sprout cuttings.
PHOTO LEFT: May 10, 2022, CLINT BANCROFT sent this photo and reported that it had "rooted" (and thus was on its way to becoming a tree). Clint wrote:
"I know it is rooted because I tugged on it GENTLY and got resistance. I would not have tried that this early on except, to my delight, it had put on apical and lateral growth.
"The tiny five buds were present when I received the cutting from Paul, but I really did not expect to see them burst, especially during their first spring.
"This appears to be the only cutting which is apical. However, they have ALL rooted (by tug test) and most have new growth."
SIGNIFICANCE: Visit the OFFSPRING section of the main Norlina Tree page, and you will grasp the significance of establishing a 100% clone of this 160-year-old tree, whose descendants now inhabit many states.
• June 2022/ Connie Barlow / Restructured the CALIFORNIA TORREYA webpage
In 2005, I made site visits to both the Coast Range and the Sierras habitats of Florida torreya's California cousin: Torreya californica.
Back then, my sole purpose was to gain (and photo-document) the growth forms and habitat characteristics so that Torreya Guardians could choose planting sites for Florida Torreya in the Appalachian Mountains that would offer the best chances for success.
Seventeen years later, there is now a second urgency: Climate change is having such an impact in California that ASSISTED MIGRATION should begin for the western Torreya species too.
I spent a whole week restructuring the page (and adding a lot of photos) so that viewers could visually grasp the most important growth characteristics of the California torreya species which very likely also will apply to Florida torreya when it has the opportunity to "rewild" in various habitats poleward of its peak glacial refuge. Here is the webpage: • California Torreya
• May 2022/ Fred Bess / A bumper crop of Torreya seeds growing in Cleveland, Ohio
FRED BESS writes about his 4-specimen grove of Florida Torreyas at his home in Cleveland, Ohio:
It looks like it is going to be a banner year for seed production here.
See these photos (May 17) of two different branches of the cutting-grown female tree.
I never imagined there could be so many cones on any one branch! It looks like a juniper loaded with cones.
The other two female-cone-producing trees are also showing seed growth, but not nearly as heavily as this tree.
I'll be sure to keep you posted with pictures as the season progresses.
Note: I may have been premature in thinking that one of those trees is monoecious. I was looking at it with a botanist friend. Upon close inspection, all the female strobili are coming from one main trunk of the tree. I got the tree (as you know) from Woodlanders in SC years ago as a seedling. Jason and I now suspect that the seed had 2 embryos and has produced "conjoined" fraternal twins as it were: one trunk male, the other female. I suppose we will never know for sure. See Fred's cumulative Torreya report, Cleveland OHIO
• May 2022/ Connie Barlow / Important to periodically look at the USF&WS official "Reports" page for Torreya taxifolia
As webmaster of the Torreya Guardians website since 2005, I attempt to ensure that all of our own actions, accomplishments, and learnings are documented here for ourselves and others to see and evaluate through time.
Our "Efforts to Save" webpage, however, provides links to the other actors in this effort (see image left). Within the "OFFICIAL PROGRAM" section, readers are encouraged to click on the link to the USF&WS Data Table: Record of Actions, and to read through the "comments" column to find the most detail on officially sanctioned efforts.
A website update has put the reports in a format difficult to read, and some elements of recovery actions are very out of date....
But I encourage citizens and journalists to periodically check that official tabulation for useful updates. For example, because I recently learned of citizen interest in California to help their own Torreya species migrate northward as climate changes, I found this report element especially helpful to be aware of:ACTION #34: Conduct grafting experiments: "The recovery plan suggests grafting [asexual propagation where the tissues (vascular cambium) of one plant are fused with those of another] with T. californica. However, T. californica is exhibiting some issues with cankers caused by pathogens with a different Fusarium species which is killing the cambium."
• May 2022/ Connie Barlow / Restructured two long pages on this website
Now that my husband and I are retired in southern Michigan, I have time to make this website easier to use. Two of the most important pages have grown to immense length, given topics and sections added to them over the past dozen years.
The image shows the TABLES OF TOPICS, with internal links, for each of these two pages:
• May 2022/ Connie Barlow / Visually detecting signs of PRE-GERMINATION
I added a new, photo-rich section to our Torreya Guardians webpage on best practices for Propagation. The new section is: Visually detecting signs of PRE-GERMINATION.
Of the 85 seeds that I retained from the 500 seeds harvested in Clinton and Mt. Olive NC that it was my responsibility to distribute, I retained just 85 for further experimentation. Of these 85, only 1 germinated by early May, following winter stratification.
Of the remaining seeds, about 1/3 showed signs of a slit at the pointed tip where germination will occur (PHOTO far left)....
The other 2/3 had no slit, but all had an easy-to-peel-away thin, papery covering that left the region around the tip smooth and a light shade of brown. Visit the new signs of PRE-GERMINATION section for Connie's photos and observations on other features of post-stratification, notably dark indentations aligned with the vertical slit. She plans to continue this experiment through the summer, to discern (a) whether the slitted seeds germinate a radicle, and (b) whether any of the less developed seeds show signs of a slit happening in the months ahead, and whether any above-ground growth (a shoot) emerges this first summer, or whether all growth remains underground as rooting.
• April 2022/ Connie Barlow / Finished distributing 2021 North Carolina seed harvest
Scroll down to NOVEMBER 2021 and you will see photos and summaries of Joe Facendola's seed harvest at two horticultural sites in North Carolina. Joe sent packages of large amounts of seeds right away to our stalwart planters. He then sent 500 seeds to me to distribute in smaller portions largely to new volunteer planters in North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Indiana, and Illinois.
By the time I calculated how to allocate the seeds among all 9 volunteer planters, temperatures where I live in Michigan were already heading below freezing. Torreya seeds are "recalcitrant"; they must never freeze or dry out. So I "stratified" them over winter, moving a small cooler of seeds in soil between hallway to porch as temperatures shifted back and forth around the freezing mark. This last week in April, I sent the final 5 boxes on their way.
• April 2022/ Connie Barlow / New 5-rule compilation of helping Torreya escape rodent predation
Over the years, the "Propagation" page on the Torreya Guardians website has become excruciatingly long and complex, as various volunteer planters weigh in on what seems to work best and worst. This year I've tried to consolidate that page, eliminate redundancies and add photos.
This month while distributing hundreds of seeds from the 2021 seed harvest, I realized I needed to create and highlight a 5-rule section titled, "Beware of Rodents!". This way, our newest planters could quickly learn our "best practices."
Rules 1 through 3 are pictured left. The remaining rules are: (4) When planting potted seedlings, add gravel to make the root zone unattractive to rodents, and (5) Avoid homegrounds of chipmunks, ground squirrels, and woodchucks.
• April 2022/ Mike Heim / Florida Torreya and Yew survive another Wisconsin winter
LEFT: Florida Yew at Hayward, Wisconsin, in early April 2022.
Mike Heim sent 3 photos of his Florida Torreyas peaking through the snow and one of his Florida Yew for posting on his Hayward, Wisconsin Torreya page on April 3.
Mike reported that February 13 marked the lowest temperature: -29F.
• April 2022/ Connie Barlow / Fusarium torreyae cannot damage Florida torreya in cooler climes
Encountering a technical fusarium paper this month titled "A Global Risk Assessment of Pitch Canker Disease", alerted me to the fact that it is well known that various species of genus Fusarium become problematic in tree farm contexts only when (a) the tree species is planted in a warmer and/or wetter climate and (b) nursery conditions harm natural microbial symbionts (crucial for resisting diseases) owing to bare rooting seedlings for transport and applications of fungicide.
This motivated me to finally post not only that information onto the "Endangerment Causes" page of this website, but also to create a new section there that documents and references how Florida torreya does live asymptomatically with Fusarium torreyae if it is planted sufficiently poleward of its peak glacial refuge in Florida. In that new section you will also find 2 slides + transcribed excerpts from a February 2022 webinar in which a Torreya Keepers staff person confirmed that northward plantings of Torreya are indeed asymptomatic.
Nonetheless, the official position is still strongly against "assisted migration" northward, such as conducted by Torreya Guardians volunteers. Their argument now points to lab results at the University of Florida that suggest (a) all plant materials of Torreya taxifolia do carry the fusarium and (b) that fusarium could harm other native tree species. Again, however, there is no documentation that other native trees could be injured by the fusarium within their own native ranges all northward of Florida. Did the lab in Florida attempt to mimic climatic and soil conditions (including winter freezes) in each tree species native range?
• March 2022/ Connie Barlow / Torreya Guardians included in Minnesota magazine article
The current issue of Minnesota Conservation Volunteer (a magazine published by Minnesota DNR) includes an extensive article that can serve as a primer for popular audiences to learn about the three forms of climate adaptation that foresters have begun using, "Resistance, Resilience, and Assisted Migration." TORREYA GUARDIANS is favorably mentioned:
"In some cases, assisted migration aims to save endangered plant species that are isolated and threatened with extinction as climate becomes unsuitable in their native range. A good example is the endangered yew Torreya taxifolia, known as "the rarest conifer in North America." It survived only in tiny areas of Florida and Georgia until the volunteer Torreya Guardians transplanted specimens to sites throughout the Appalachians and Midwest, as far north as southwestern Wisconsin."
• February 2022/ Connie Barlow / iNaturalist includes Torreya Guardians discoveries of Florida Torreya
I looked at the Florida Torreya page on iNaturalist for the first time. I was impressed by the content and extensive references both old and recent. Torreya Guardians discoveries and achievements are mentioned in several places, including our Historic Groves webpage and our seed production in Cleveland.
EXCERPT: "Because the confined native range of Torreya taxifolia, which includes Torreya State Park, is a well known glacial refugium, the ecological conditions and plants that it associates with there do not provide the full picture of the habitat preferences of this species at this warming time of the Holocene. For this reason, the citizen advocacy group known as Torreya Guardians includes a page on their website titled "Historic Groves of Torreya Trees: Long-Term Experiments in Assisted Migration." "Naturalized groves" is the highest category listed, followed by "mature trees producing seeds" and "mature trees not producing seeds." As of 2021, 13 sites of historic groves are listed, described, mapped, and linked, along with three academic papers that describe the importance of such groves for assessing the viability of assisted migration as climate warms. The northern-most grove producing seeds is in Cleveland, Ohio."
• February 2022/ Paul Camire / Florida torreyas in another Michigan winter
Paul Camire sent 10 PHOTOS of his within-forest plantings of Torreya at the woodlot on his farm in Capac, MI.
LEFT: Recovering from a deer-browsed leader.
RIGHT: All torreyas are now caged, and this one is lucky enough to never have been browsed.
• February 2022 / Nelson Stover / Report of the 2013 free-planting seed project in Greensboro, NC
November 2021, Nelson and Elaine Stover photo-documented another year of growth on each of the seedlings that sprouted and established from seeds planted (3 inches deep) directly into the soil of the deciduous forest next to their home in Greensboro, NC.
PHOTO: From seed planted in 2013, and having first shown above-ground growth in either 2015 or 2016, this little seedling is doing well in the company of evergreen Christmas Ferns. The ferns utilize the same group of mycorrhizal symbionts as does Torreya and they help camouflage this endangered member of the yew family from winter-hungry deer.
• GREENSBORO, NC Torreya webpage.
• December 2021 / Paul Camire / She lives! A site visit to the old Norlina tree, NC
Paul Camire is our Torreya planter in the "thumb" of Michigan. He is also our most diligent documenter of old horticultural plantings of torreya both onsite and as documented (usually archivally) on the web. December 12 Paul (pictured at left) sent an email to Connie Barlow, with photos. Paul wrote:
"On my way back home from Florida yesterday, I made a major detour and went to find out if the Norlina tree still exists. It Lives!
I was allowed to take a few cuttings that I've already let Jack and Clint know are coming their way."
View PAUL CAMIRE'S FULL REPORT (with photos) at our Norlina NC tree webpage.
Editor's comment: Because I have never seen this pattern of recovery in any tree before, I sure hope somebody with expertise will attempt to discern what calamity happened, and then the details of vegetative recovery.
• November 2021 / Connie Barlow / Reddit now has a community on the topic "Assisted Migration"
Torreya Guardians was apparently a key inspiration for a Reddit contributor to create a new community: r/Assisted Migration.
The originator/"moderator" has well presented the concept in both the choice of title and what already exists on the site's wiki tab. I have great hope that this new site will rapidly evolve into the prime place for supportive people not only to interact, but to create, collaborate, and post actual AM projects.
Today I posted a suggestion to link to an Indigenous project, "Helping Forests Walk" and to the U.S. gov Climate Resilience Toolkit website that also points to this Indigenous title for assisted migration.
• November 2021 / Sara Evans / November 2021 photos of 2008 plantings at Waynesville, NC
Photos by Sara Evans. Caption by Connie Barlow.
July 2008, Torreya Guardians planted 31 potted seedlings on the steep forested property of Sara Evans, a bit west of Waynesville NC.
From the early years, and continuing today, the two lushest and healthiest trees have been the two planted nearest to the "weeping wall" waterfall: "Maxilla" to the left of it and "Celia" to the right (and upslope).
Sara Evans took several photos of these two torreyas, mid November 2021.
PHOTO LEFT: The "Celia" Torreya, named for Celia Hunter.
Visit the Waynesville Torreya webpage for all photos.
• November 2021 / Joe Facendola / 1,480 seeds collected from the Mt. Olive NC torreya trees
JOE FACENDOLA, for the third year in a row, continues his late-October / early-November seed gathering at private homes in Clinton NC (see report immediately below) and Mt. Olive. Joe reports that Mrs. Bullard also authorized his collection of 3 seedlings this year, as well.
• November 2021 / Joe Facendola / Seeds, seedlings, and basal cuttings from the Clinton NC tree
JOE FACENDOLA, for the third year in a row, continues his late-October / early-November seed gathering at the homes of Mrs. Kennedy in Clinton NC and Mrs. Bullard in nearby Mt. Olive.
In addition to 670 seeds, Joe also collected this year 13 seedlings (photo below left) from where squirrels had kindly buried seeds into non-mowed sections of the front yard in Clinton NC.
New this year, he cut tips and lower segments of the vertical stems of basal sprouts (photo) which are the only parts of the plant that will carry forward the tree form when carefully rooted.
This year Joe photographed the two largest regrowth torreya trees on the property which may be vital for ensuring a pollen source for healthy genetics of the lone seed-bearing tree.
Visit the Clinton NC torreya page for a photo-rich chronological history. There you will also see photos of the two regrowth torreyas that may be crucial providers of pollen.
• October 2021 / Fred Bess / 168 seeds collected from his grove in Cleveland, Ohio
Fred planted his trees from potted seedlings in 2009. Because he planted in his front yard, in full sun, he started getting a few seeds in 2017.
Now, in 2021, he reports an astounding 168 seeds.
More PHOTOS and commentary at the Cleveland, OH Torreya webpage.
• October 2021 / Clint Bancroft / 64 seeds collected from century-old grove near Highlands NC
For the second year in a row Clint Bancroft led the effort to harvest seeds at this old horticultural planting. This year the owners are new. CLINT writes:
"The new owners are aware of the trees and their rarity. They are doing a lot of landscaping work and have cleared a significant space on the north and east of the existing grove.
So the Torreya grove is now exposed to much more light. It will be interesting to see if seed production will be greater next year if we are allowed to return next year.
I am sending pictures of the grove as it appears now. All of the trees appear in very good health."
More PHOTOS and commentary at the Highlands Torreya webpage.
• October 2021 / Sharon Mohney / First germination of free-planted 2020 seeds into Virginia forest
SHARON writes 20 October 2021:
"I was walking a part of my place today, looking for any burning bush seedlings to pull up, and decided to walk one of my torreya flag lines. Look what I found!"
Ed. note: November 2020, Sharon "freeplanted" seeds freshly harvested from private plantings in Clinton and Mt. Olive, NC.
She placed them alongside an ideal "nurse" plant for Torreya: Polystichum ("Christmas") ferns.
Visit her Buchanan, VA homepage.
• October 2021 / Connie Barlow / TORREYA GUARDIANS WIKIPEDIA PAGE is in final form
CONNIE BARLOW WRITES: This summer an experienced, anonymous wikipedia contributor created a new page, Wikipedia: TORREYA GUARDIANS. For controversial topics (such as us) there are wikipedia editors who monitor to ensure that any changes or additions reflect factual reporting of a neutral stance, supported by "third party" references such as journal articles, newspapers, magazines, and books. Wiki editors are particularly vigilant when someone tries to contribute to or edit a page who is directly associated with that topic. Well, I certainly am!
For the past several weeks, I have been adding content to the wiki page, with substantial third party references. Sometimes I would find the next day that something I had written had been somewhat changed, maybe even deleted. Interestingly, in all instances, I found myself agreeing with the wiki editor. So I never contested anything.
The morning of October 17, I found that two entire sections, "Case Studies", and "Interactions with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service" had been deleted (except for one paragraph with its journal reference, which had been moved up into an earlier section). At first I was shocked, but soon I again agreed with the editors.
Within an hour or so, I realized that I could turn the event into a useful thing: I could add the deleted content to the Torreya Guardians website. Check it out here: "Torreya Guardians Interactions with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service".
Connie Barlow has been contributing to a new wikipedia page, far left.
A new section she created, including the chronological chart (image left), was deleted by the wikipedia editors.
So Connie added it to our own website: "Torreya Guardians Interactions with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service".
• October 2021 / Connie Barlow / USF&WS TORREYA PETITION DECISION reveals agency has no "climate adaptation" policy to aid "recovery" of endangered species
CONNIE BARLOW WRITES: Because Torreya Guardians is an informal organization and does not make decisions nor speak with a single voice, in Sept 2019 I filed, as a lone individual, a PETITION TO DOWNLIST THE FLORIDA TORREYA. (Scroll down to Sept 2019 on this chronological reports page to see my own statement and link to the petition.) On Sept 29, 2021, the USF&WS posted its decision, ruling against my proposed downlisting to "threatened" status.
My original intention was not to achieve actual downlisting, but to compel the agency to publish a decision that recognized our substantial achievements in documenting northward thrival in historic plantings and our own learnings as to best propagation techniques and choice of planting sites.
Ultimately, I hoped that such recognition would lead to official embrace of "assisted migration experimentation" and thence to agency and public pressure aimed at calling out the climate-denying standards established by the two botanical gardens controlling ex situ seed dissemination.
My continuing hope and advocacy is for the Atlanta Botanical Garden and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia to be compelled to cease requiring botanical gardens north of Georgia to assent to Memorandums of Understanding pledging to utilize the seeds exclusively for genetic safeguarding. Until that limitation is removed, those of us engaged in poleward planting and experimentation will be barred from accessing the full genetic diversity of Torreya seeds thus resulting in assisted migration projects unnecessarily burdened by limited (and possibly dangerously inbred) genetics from seeds produced from limited horticultural parents.
LEFT: Excerpts from the 11-page decision.
YELLOW highlights passages where USF&WS acknowledges the value of Torreya Guardians' contributions in discerning "best propagation practices," "natural history" learnings, and documentation of "localities and conditions of recent and historical outplantings ... seed sources and seed distributions."
PINK highlights crucial passages where the agency reveals an absence of any climate adaptation policy.
See the implications below.
EXCERPTS OF BARLOW'S RESPONSE TO THE AGENCY, 30 September 2021:... My aim was not so much to achieve a downlisting, but to get some attention that the policy of "historic range" needs to have a "climate adaptation" update, as pioneered by the National Park Service in April via its new "RAD" policy [Resist-Accept-Direct]. USDA has long been moving in the climate adaptive direction, without a great deal of fanfare. USFS research staff have published tree species range shift projections. As well, the agency is working to make the science of range shift accessible to forest owners and managers in the USA including some very substantial work with tribal forestry staff. That work is carried out by staff at the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science.
... Bottom line: I believe the USF&WS branch of DOI can produce a policy statement that would authorize, on a case-by-case basis, "endangered species" decisions to begin including climate adaptive responses in favor of suitable conditions in "projected ranges" not just limited to trying to manipulate the habitat of "historic ranges" to enable species thrival again. This is especially vital for any plant species classified as a "glacial relict" to ever achieve suitable habitat in this rapidly changing climate. New habitat poleward is the only chance to ever delist the plant. Otherwise "safeguarding genetic materials" will be perpetual and never enable a full wild presence.
NOTE: This petition decision outcome has also been summarized on the case study page of this website: CASE STUDY: Agency and Institutional Failures in Endangered Species Management of Florida Torreya. It is listed as:14. FAILURE to include in the agency's PETITION DECISION on downlisting Florida Torreya any climate adaptive policy for enabling species "recovery" to track geographic climate range shifts rather than being restricted to "historic range."BARLOW NEXT STEPS: "Because 2 of the 10 authors of the National Park Service climate adaptation policy (published Spring 2021) are staff of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife service, I plan to reach out to those staff members and ask for their support in urging F&WS to adopt a similar climate adaptation policy to guide management of endangered species and to then apply it immediately to freeing up T. taxifolia seeds produced in the official ex situ orchards from current barriers to northward distribution."
• September 2021 / Connie Barlow / SEEDS can adapt to climate only before germinationfor which, just five weeks before Dr. Coffey's talk, I had submitted an FOIA data request March 2018 in order to find out. The agency (Fish & Wildlife Service) required to produce such documentation, found none for the years I asked for: 2007-2017. Yet here, a relatively new staff member of Atlanta Botanical Garden (Dr. Coffey lists her start date as June 2017 on her Researchgate page), reports the number publicly, for her first harvest season with the ex situ plantings. The revelation that 13,000 seeds were produced in one of the north Georgia sites and the implication that some 8,000 seeds may have been uncollected and undistributed that year (and ongoingly?) breaks my heart. We Torreya Guardians plead for seeds for our own experimental "assisted migration" plantings on private properties (and botanical gardens) in northward states. Owing to an exception just for plants in the U.S. Endangered Species Act, we have been acquiring seeds from horticultural plantings in North Carolina, but most of these sites have sorely limited genetic diversity. An opportunity to strengthen these northward ex situ plantings with broader genetics (and vastly greater numbers) would be a blessing not only for us, but for future generations trying to stave off plant extinctions as the climate crisis worsens.
It makes a difference what climate a Torreya seed experiences during the months (and sometimes years!) while the embryo is slowly maturing, prior to germination of the rootlike "radicle."
ADVICE FOR TORREYA PLANTERS: If you live in the southern or central Appalachians, it is surely fine for you to purchase and plant nursery-grown seedlings from more southern states (such as South Carolina and Georgia).
But if you live in the northern states, it is important to acquire seeds directly and put those seeds into the outdoor ground ("freeplanting") so that they can experience a full winter at their ultimate destination prior to embryo maturation.
Recent research (as in the research paper above) on commercially valuable conifers turned up surprising abilities of seeds to permanently shift the ultimate budburst timing in the spring and vegetative hardening in the fall. Because this has nothing to do with changes in the seed's DNA, it is called "epigenetic" adaptation, not genetic.
So, for northern-state planters, if you store your seeds in your refrigerator or germinate them in your basement, or if you purchase potted seedlings from a southern state nursery, your torreya trees may permanently be less capable of thriving in your climate than they would have been had you put seeds directly into their ultimate destinations in your forested property. Genus Torreya might have even more exceptional epigenetic talents than the younger Pinaceae conifers that have already been tested. Click the image above to read the technical science paper.
• August 2021 / Clint, Jack, and Paul / Clint Bancroft's injured torreya recovered with 3 tall leaders at the top (Ocoee watershed, TN)
Aug 28 - CLINT wrote: "Earlier this year, I know not what happened, the growth tip of my oldest Torreya disappeared. I watched to see what it would do, expecting a new vertical leader to form. I was almost right! Since then, it has put up three separate vertical leaders. One is a bit taller than the other two. I have wondered about what is best to do since the tree had perfect symmetrical growth up to this point which I would like to see continue. I don't know how a Torreya with three crowns will look, I suppose one will eventually predominate and the others will kind of be like basals, but five feet up from the base. My thought is to remove the two smaller verticals in October and root them, leaving a single vertical leader. Your thoughts? This is an interesting development, an unplanned experiment, but I was disheartened that my baby (my first and oldest) was damaged and now has funky growth.
Aug 29 - JACK wrote: "The crotch angles between the 3 shoots is too narrow. Two need clipping, which is what I understand you plan to do. Deer rubs continue to be an issue here. I have some cages in place. Last year I had one plant killed to within one foot of the ground due to rubs."
Aug 29 - PAUL wrote: "I like your idea of cutting off the two (weaker) of the three terminals, and rooting them. You clearly want to keep the symmetrical growth of that plant so do it! Usually this happens here when birds land on the new growth of spruce trees and snap it off. Usually a few shoots compete and if you cut off the weaker competing shoots, then business continues as normal. Clint, the growth for all three is strong. You are going to have two new nice plants after rooting! • Three of the six Highlands NC seeds have sprouted here (Capac MI). I also noticed that my Torreya in full sun had a second sprout of growth in late July, but the Torreya in the woods did not this year. Perhaps the ratio of sun/shade has something to do with this?"
• August 2021 / Connie Barlow / Torreya Guardians has a Wikipedia page and is linked from a major page
A new wikipedia page, Assisted Migration of Forests in North America was created in 2021. I noticed it in July, and because it was focused on assisted migration as it applies to climate adaptation in FORESTRY, rather than conservation biology, it was easy for me to add neutral content (required by Wikipedia) with many scholarly references. I have been compiling such academic publications for years in the Forestry section of the "Assisted Migration Scholarly Links" page on our Torreya Guardians website.
Assisted Migration of Forests in North America
The wiki editor who created the Forestry assisted migration page, also created a Torreya Guardians page, after I included our group's actions in Section 8.1 - "Assisted migration of forest understory plants."
Because our group has been mentioned in a great number of scholarly publications, as well as newspaper and magazine articles, it was easy for me to add neutral, referenced content according to the structure the editor had already set up for the page.
• July 2021 / John Patterson / Out-planted torreyas in Ohio forest seem immune to huge deer population
• July 2021 - In Loveland Ohio near Cincinatti, John Patterson reports:"So far, of the nine torreya trees I have moved the last two years into my woods with high overhead canopies all have done well despite the fact that this year two of the properties near me had seen a group of 18 does in their pastures one day and there are three major paths the deer use crossing my property along with between 9 and 12 bucks. Yet, only one tree has been nibbled on but little damage to the tree.Note: This project was started by Bob Miller, neighbor next door to John Patterson, in November 2015. See the photo-rich webpage of their combined effort.
The 9 remaining trees in my garden are getting big, so I know I will have to dig deep to move them this fall."
LEFT: Tree #6.
• June 2021 / Connie Barlow / Torreya Guardians in article about international efforts to prevent extinctions
• July 2021 - "Why climate change is forcing conservationists to be more ambitious: by moving threatened species to pastures new", by Sarah Elizabeth Dalrymple, in The Conversation.
EXCERPT: "... But while researchers are using computer models to predict the future needs of threatened species, one group has decided that the time to act is now. The Florida torreya, the most endangered coniferous tree in the US, has been moved north by a group of citizens known as the Torreya Guardians. They exploited a loophole in US law that allows plant translocations on private land by the public but prevents federal conservation authorities from doing the same thing. The species' current range is extremely restricted but was much more widespread before the last global ice age. The Torreya Guardians argue that the specimens of Florida torreya growing across the US provide evidence that the species can thrive beyond its current restrictions."
• June 2021 / Lee Barnes and Daein Ballard / New Hampshire Torreya planter featured in regional newspaper
"Mason man works with organization to research new habitats for endangered tree", by reporter Ashley Saari, in Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, 9 June 2021.
EXCERPTS: Hidden away on a property in Mason, about two dozen seedlings of Torreya taxifolia are quietly growing, watched over by Daein Ballard. They may be the only specimen of their kind in New Hampshire.
... So far, since starting the project in 2014, he said the results have been about 50/50 whether the trees survive.
"It can definitely survive here, but they may not thrive," Ballard said. "They're growing more slowly than they are in the south. It's probably too far north for them here."
That's OK, he said at the moment, his results are just a data point for where these trees might do well, and where they might not. And, Ballard said, the success or failure of Torreya taxifolia might inform how the process works with other endangered plants.
... Ballard said the [torreya] is a good test case for human assisted migration because it has such a small, niche environment where it grows in the wild.
"It's a prime example of a tree in a habitat that is no longer suited for it," Ballard said. "But a lot of trees are starting to have that problem. There are a lot of trees no longer in their ideal habitat."
... "Trees grow slower than us and live a lot longer than us. So who's to say? Maybe the climate in New Hampshire 100 years from now will be better for them. It's a long game." Read PDF of full new story.
• June 2021 / Connie Barlow / Torreya Guardians actions featured in new video "Helping Forests Walk"
Retired now to my home state of Michigan, I just launched a new video series that builds upon the foundation laid by Torreya Guardians. I have titled it "Helping Forests Walk", and it is a more reflective series on the topic of "assisted migration" than my 2014-2020 video series filmed across America: "Climate, Trees, and Legacy". The previous series featured field experience and learnings of these native trees: Torrey Pine, Joshua Tree (5 vids), Arizona Cypress, Rocky Mountain Trees (10 species), Engelmann Spruce (2 vids), "Becoming Passenger Pigeon" (eastern USA large-seeded trees), Alligator Juniper (9 vids), Redwoods and Sequoias (9 vids), and my 2015 lecture on assisted migration at Michigan Tech U.
This new VIDEO series will feature traditional natural history ways of observing and interpreting as a possible bridge between indigenous and modern science. The first episode is an introduction to the series. It is 52 minutes long. The section on Florida Torreya and the work of Torreya Guardians begins at timecode 26:51.
2021 END-OF-YEAR UPDATE on this new video series: Click the IMAGES above to watch any of the additional 2021 videos. Of most relevance to TORREYA is HFW 04 on subcanopy trees as both torreya and pawpaw are featured. In that video Indigenous values are advocated as well as the "natural history" style of observation and interpretation which is the foundation of western science.
"Thinking Like a Yew" will be very useful for any Florida Torreya planter who is also planting Florida Yew or wishes that this glacial relict could receive the kind of attention and support that its Florida co-resident, Torreya, has achieved. Anyone interested in the technical history of the assisted migration debate in forestry will find value in HFW 02, which is a reposting of Connie Barlow's 2015 presentation at Michigan Technological University.
• June 2021 / C. Barlow / Video short by Verge on assisted migration includes Torreya Guardians
EDITOR'S NOTE - This is an extraordinarily well-written and illustrated short video on "assisted migration" as a climate adaptation tool. Two scientists provide the faces with quotes. The first is Angie Patterson, a plant ecophysiologist at Black Rock Forest in New York. She's the one who gathers data by shooting leaves off the full-sun tops of trees. The other is Jessica Hellmann, University of Minnesota ecologist and an author of academic papers on "managed relocation" for many years. Torreya Guardians has a cameo role, too. (See below.)
EXCERPTS OF VIDEO NARRATION: "... At first, assisted migration was controversial in academia. In fact, one of the most well known efforts was carried out by a loose collective of citizen-scientists called the Torreya Guardians. They've been trying to save the critically endangered Florida Torreya. A fungus blight brought on by environmental changes has pretty much wiped them out.
... Human-induced climate change has irrevocably altered the planet.... We have to make pragmatic decisions about what is worth saving and why. And then we probably do have to intervene.... Indigenous perspectives are incredibly important too."
• June 2021 / Connie Barlow / 2018 Video presentation by staff of Atlanta Botanical Garden reports 13,000 Torreya seeds produced at the Blairsville ex situ planting in the mountains of north Georgia
Note by Connie Barlow: Periodically, I revisit the Torreya taxifolia pages of the key institutions that are working with this critically endangered tree. Here in the USA, the main institutions are U.S Fish & Wildlife Service, Atlanta Botanical Garden, State Botanical Garden of Georgia, and the Center for Plant Conservation. Any significant new postings of theirs (or others) I then list and link on our own "Efforts to Save" webpage. The 2018 powerpoint VIDEO featured here was posted back in 2019, but I only encountered it this week. Here is the documentation of seeds produced in ex situ plantings
PHOTO LEFT: Here is a slide from timecode 04:11 drawn from a video posted of the May 2018 presentation made by Dr. Emily Coffey, of Atlanta Botanical Garden, at the national meeting of the Center for Plant Conservation. The linked title of her 10-minute presentation:
EXCERPT: "So this year [Fall 2017] we actually had a bumper crop. We had 13,000 seeds that we collected from our Blairsville site.... The biggest issue is that they are recalcitrant so that the only way to store them is through somatic embryogenesis. We have cryo storage but 13,000 seeds is a lot of seeds. So we were not able to obviously utilize all of those seeds. But we have been able to distribute a large number of them."
Note: Barlow collected a half-dozen screenshots, with spoken word excerpts, and posted these images and excerpts of Dr. Coffey's VIDEO on a new webpage.
• May 2021 / Fred Bess / Rooting success of branch cuttings plus documentation that Torreya is facultatively monoecious
PHOTO LEFT: Fred Bess of Cleveland, Ohio, sent this photo of success in rooting branchlet cuttings, from the tree at Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Fred Bess also reports young seeds forming on both of his female trees, but what is also exciting is that he sent a photo documenting one of his "male" trees forming seeds on a branch right next to another branch producing pollen.
This is the second photo-documentation contributed by Torreya Guardians establishing that this dioecious genus is facultatively monoecious. The first was by the late A.J. Bullard, among the torreyas he planted at his home in Mt. Olive, NC.
Note: After we reported Bullard's documentation of male and female cones on the same individual, the WIKIPEDIA entry on Torreya taxifolia did shift to calling it "facultatively monoecious." But the page has shifted again, and in many ways now seems to be rather strange. So our webpage here does not link to it.
• May 2021 / Connie Barlow / "Assisted colonization" paper in Science signals need to call out agency and institutional failures
While our What We Have Learned webpage offers a chronological (and linked) annotated list of our achievements, there was no single page on this website where people could find and assess for themselves the agency and institutional decisions and actions that have stood in the way of helping this beleaguered relict species move north. So when Science journal published a forum piece, "Global Policy for Assisted Colonization of Species", by Jedediah F. Brodie and 7 coauthors, and because it was critical of our "unregulated" actions, Barlow decided it was time to publish the history of agency and institutional decisions and actions that she interprets as thwarting effective implementation of the Endangered Species Act in this time of rapid climate change.
• Access Barlow's May 2021 CASE STUDY: "Agency and Institutional Failures (13 identified failures).
PHOTO LEFT: Connie Barlow with Fred Bess in Cleveland Ohio, October 2018. They are examining the tallest of Fred's 4-specimen grove of Florida Torreyas, which he planted in his front yard. Nearby is a female, which bears 19 seeds.
To comply with the ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT prohibition of interstate commerce of designated plants, Fred had to drive to South Carolina to purchase the potted seedlings at a nursery in 2009. That's a distance of 780 miles, as the Passenger Pigeon would fly.
• May 2021 / Connie Barlow / Connie Barlow retires to Michigan and launches Pawpaw study
This is a note for our TORREYA VOLUNTEERS:My husband and I retired to my homestate of Michigan to help out with a new grand-daughter. Torreya will always be my top priority in how I spend my time. So do keep sending me updates and photos of how your own plantings are doing. But I may be a bit slow in posting them on your site webpage and responding to you. The reason is that I am launching a citizen-science effort here to discern why some wild pawpaw patches produce fruit and others do not. Amazingly, no scientific paper yet establishes who the actual pollinators are (vs. casual visitors that don't effectively pollinate the blossoms). If you are curious and especially if you have access to wild or horticultural plantings to spend time observing insect visitors then do visit my Pawpaw Ecological Survey in Michigan webpage.
• April 2021 / David Buckner and Connie Barlow / Baby photos of seedlings north of Asheville NC
David Buckner free-planted Florida Torreya seeds in March 2017, which were donated by Frank Callahan from seeds he germinated and then planted in Medford OR more than two decades ago. This month David sent Connie photos of two seedlings now visible in his forest. So Connie created a new webpage for David's Torreya site north of Asheville, NC here: Mars Hill, NC webpage. Look carefully at the photos of the two seedlings below and you will see in each an evergreen frond of native Christmas Fern indicative of a superb planting site for torreya. Connie also added the Mars Hill site to our list of old and new plantings in North Carolina.
• April 2021 / Connie Barlow / Long-form essay places Florida Torreya in context of people, place, and history
A half dozen Torreya planters made sure I was aware of this beautifully illustrated, literary, and evocative essay by Martha Park:
"This Is Paradise". It was published in the April issue of The Bitter Southerner. The tagline summary:
"The rare Florida torreya tree grows only in the wild along a narrow stretch of the Apalachicola River. In the 1950s an eccentric lawyer named E.E. Callaway declared it was the gopher wood tree from which Noah's Ark was built. Today the Florida torreya is on the brink of extinction. Can the story of this tree and the people who love it help bridge the gap between science and faith?"
LEFT: Illustration from the essay, captioned "Chris Larson admires a Torreya tree at her property at Mossy Head" [FL].
Chris Larson (pictured with one of her torreyas above) bridges the usually contentious positions of residents of the deep south who are determined to keep their struggling native tree in place and Torreya planters farther north who have been helping this left-behind glacial relict return northward since 2008. Chris owns land due west of Torreya State Park that has its own spring-fed steephead ravine. While she is determined to keep this ancient tree alive on her property as long as she can, she also says, "Assisted migration is necessary." Learn more about Chris and Robert Larson's torreyas at Shoal Sanctuary, FL. As to the essay overall, it helps us all to understand the inherent conflicts. It features the in-place dedication to historic range of scientists associated with the Atlanta Botanical Garden and the Nature Conservancy. The essay also features landowners who love their torreyas but are wary of the ways of the scientists. For an overview (with references) of the various positions, visit our own Efforts to Save webpage.
• April 2021 / Connie Barlow / Update on USF&WS official pages on Florida Torreya
Every time there is a change in federal administration, it is crucial to take a fresh look at the official page and the updated tabular report of actions pertaining to Florida Torreya as an officially listed endangered species. The image below entails the General Information section as it appears this month:
Crucially, the information in the image above signals a return to the long-standing official assessment that a variety of pathogens, none of which is categorized as non-native, entail the proximate cause of species decline. Crucially, "environmental stress" is mentioned, too. However, "glacial relict" status, which was mentioned in the draft EIS, endangered listing of 1984, and the first (1986) and second (2010) recovery plans, is not yet restored in this single paragraph. Even so, it is possible that stances of the previous administration that forced agency staff to retrench on mentioning "climate change" may continue to be rolled back. Certainly, if Florida Torreya can be recognized as a left-behind glacial relict, a rational response would be for the federal government to insist that this endangered species be offered poleward "managed relocation" before any other species is offered that level of conservation and/or climate adaptation action.
For those who remember the "Torreya Symposium" of March 2018, co-sponsored by University of Florida, Florida State Parks, and Atlanta Botanical Garden, and especially the various reportage on its results, not only was a genetic engineering proposal announced, but warnings were made that past and future translocation actions northward could put several other widespread native conifer species in danger of an implied exotic pathogen, the newly named Fusarium torreyae. Thankfully, the prospect of genetic engineering against a (wrongly) presumed exotic disease may be over. Perhaps one day the governmental staff in charge of "recovering" this species will take seriously the substantial LEARNINGS documented over the course of 16 years by volunteers known as Torreya Guardians, especially our detailed documentation of the health and seed production in horticultural plantings far north of the peak glacial refuge in n. Florida.
Two additional documents merit attention that are linked from the official USF&WS Florida Torreya page:1. "View Implementation Progress" links to a matrix format, in which the "Comments" column is key. There I learned that "The Torreya Keepers received funding in 2019 and 2020 from Section 6 and FEMA."POSSIBLE ACTIONS: As my own volunteerism within Torreya Guardians entails interaction with the federal officials, it is time for me to take another look at whether this administration might have more helpful approaches in (a) responding to my Petition to Downlist Torreya to "threatened," (b) removing from the 2020 Recovery Plan update the unjust and slanderous reference to Torreya Guardians as "a religious group based out of northern Georgia," (c) responding more accurately to a renewed pre-FOIA inquiry for documentation of "numbers of seeds and their ultimate destinations" produced each year at the official ex situ "safeguarding" sites, managed by Atlanta Botanical Garden and the State Botanical Garden in Georgia, and (d) expressly recognizing that volunteer citizen-science, such as our documentation of Historic Groves far north of native range, can accelerate moving ahead with scientifically informed climate adaptation projects for conserving native biodiversity.
2. Under the "Petitions" category, I saw that the "downlist" petition I personally submitted September 2018 is still listed and linked, but no action on it is reported.
• March 2021 / Connie Barlow / A reminder of how big genus TORREYA can grow
Ever since my visit in 2005 to 5 regions in the Coast Range and Sierras where Torreya californica grows in the wild, I have maintained a set of site-specific California torreya webpages.
My own photos from 2005 are posted but also new photos that contributors send to us for posting on this website.
LEFT is one of 3 photos recently contributed by Eric Ettlinger of a likely near-champion torreya north of San Francisco. (Notice the large trunks of Coast Redwood directly behind him.) Visit the photo-essay we have posted of his contribution.
A number of photographs on our "About Torreya" webpage show just how big Torreya species native to California, China, and even the eastern USA are capable of growing.
• March 2021 / Connie Barlow / "Helping Forests Walk" is Indigenous term for "Assisted Migration"
LEFT: Title and section of the 2021 update of this webpage begun in 2008.
Motivated by the covid quarantines in 2020, my husband (Michael Dowd) and I ended our 18 years of living on the road by settling in southern Michigan. Looking around for a local native tree to serve, I have adopted the subcanopy fruiting pawpaw tree....... In researching what is still a mystery about this tree, I co-founded the "Pawpaw Pollinator Watch citizen science project. Native Americans, I have learned, played a crucial role in assisting the migration northward of this delicious fruit as the glaciers waned. An Indigenous term for what they have achieved: "Helping Forests Walk".
• December 2020 / Buford Pruitt / Photo-essay of superb torreya growth, Brevard NC
Editor's note: Here are photos of the two tallest seedlings (from 2011 seed crop) growing in mature forest along Buford Pruitt's driveway near Brevard, North Carolina. Visit the Brevard NC torreya webpage to see the entire photo-essay report that Buford sent to Connie Barlow this month.
Buford finally finished building his forest home (photo right) and thus had time to photograph and record the heights and sunlight stats of all 14 torreyas.
The two tallest are shown here. Each is 71 inches tall. The shortest (in the driest site) is 13 inches tall.
All torreyas are caged. Buford reports that in his neck of the woods, uncaged trees of this height risk damage by buck deer rubbing off antler velvet. Even though some of the lower branches extend beyond the cages, no browsing is evident on those unprotected leaves.
With this stellar accomplishment of healthy, near-decade-old torreyas "rewilded" into the southern Appalachians, Buford Pruitt's project is now shown as the lead volunteer planting on the North Carolina Torreya webpage. Bravo, Buford!
Photos were taken December 2020.
• December 2020 / Russ Regnery / Photo comparison of 2 years torreya growth
RUSS REGNERY, rural forest site near Cashiers and Franklin NC, rediscovered one of the 6 seedlings that Connie Barlow was able to find two years earlier (November 2018). A careful survey may well reveal the other seedlings too.
NOVEMBER 2018 (left-most): A torreya growing from a seed free-planted 3.5 years earlier is still just a single stalk. By DECEMBER 2020, the same seedling evidences 2 lateral growth spurts.
See the full history of seed and seedling plantings at this site (including videos).
• December 2020 / Mike Heim / Winter in northern Wisconsin
Mike Heim in northern Wisconsin was happy to greet this Florida Torreya (lateral growth, owing to it being a rooted branchlet) during a melt time in early winter.
Mike was one of the recipients of Torreya Guardians 2020 seed distribution (see report immediately below). He planted all seeds immediately, directly into the forest soil of his fenced deer exclosure.
For a long time, he has also been nurturing plant species that used to grow in northern North America during the Tertiary Period, but for whatever reason went extinct with the arrival of the Pleistocene, hanging on in other parts of the world such as Asia notably, Ginkgo, Metasequoia, and Cephalotaxus. As well, he tests the cold hardiness of plant species native to eastern North America whose ranges are a good deal southward of his home e.g., Taxodium, Shortia, Magnolia fraseri.
• November 2020 / Joe Facendola / Photo-essay of my seed-collecting in North Carolina
Joe Facendola filed a 14-page PDF of his seed collecting visits (October 31) to Clinton and Mt. Olive, North Carolina. The photo shows the 1,383 seeds collected in Clinton (top bucket) and 1,063 seeds collected at the pair of smaller trees in Mt. Olive (lower 2 buckets). Three first-year seedlings were collected near the Clinton tree (all with landowner permissions).
Editor's note: Connie Barlow converted Joe's photo-essay into a PHOTO-RICH WEBPAGE that she supplemented with the seed-collecting context and photos of prior years. Joe's photo-essay shows healthy growth in full-sun of two torreyas planted by A.J. Bullard in Mt. Olive NC. A.J. died this past spring, and his widow asked that this year our collector trim back the branches encroaching on the driveway. Joe complied. What strange times we live in, when the second most climate-endangered conifer in the world (a glacial relict) is given no help in moving poleward under the official endangered species recovery plan, such that we citizen volunteers have to scramble to do so on our own!
• A Narrative Summary of Torreya's History and Growth Characteristics in PDF was created by Connie Barlow in November 2020 to send to new torreya seed planters. It is 4 pages long, and the most up-to-date (while short) presentation on this website.
• November 2020 / Sharon Mohney & Connie Barlow / First large-scale planting within Virginia
November 2020, Sharon Mohney initiated the first large-scale, within-forest planting within Virginia of freshly harvested Torreya seeds.
The seeds were donated by owners of mature horticultural plantings of Florida Torreya in Clinton NC and Mt Olive NC. (See the report directly below by Joe Facendola, seed collector.)
The photo left shows an ideal landscape for torreya planting, based on what Torreya Guardians have learned thus far: (1) Planting on a slope beneath a deciduous canopy, and (2) planting amidst evergreen Christmas ferns, which offer superb camouflage for torreya seedlings as protection against winter-hungry deer.
Visit the new photo-rich webpage of this assisted migration project near BUCHANAN, VIRGINIA.
• November 2020 / Joe Facendola & Connie Barlow / Clinton and Mt. Olive NC mature torreyas yield 2,443 SEEDS this year
Following introductory phone calls by Connie Barlow to Mrs. Kennedy (in Clinton, NC) and Mrs. Bullard (Mt. Olive NC), North Carolina resident (and Torreya Guardian) Joe Facendola managed to collect seeds (and assist the owners with seedling digging and branch pruning) all in one day: October 31. Both the tall Torreya in Clinton and its pair of mature offspring in Mt. Olive looked very healthy (no signs of canker) and the seeds were abundant and ripe. (Access photos of these sites.)
Joe and Connie then set about distributing seeds via priority mail. Connie had quite a backlog of new recruits because we have had little access to seeds in recent years yet this website regularly points enthusiasts in our direction.
This year the focus was on mailing large numbers of seeds (usually about 100) to each planter so that the bulk would be "free-planted", a form of "rewilding," immediately within forests. Accordingly, Connie created an easy-to-use PLANTING INSTRUCTIONS CHECKLIST within the otherwise very long "Propagate" page on the Torreya Guardians website.
FINAL DESTINATION STATES: North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Indiana, Virginia, New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio.
PHOTO ABOVE: Connie randomly sorted out 2 sets of 50 seeds from each of the two NC seed sites and tested them in a jar of water. The average was one "floater" per 50 seeds, with the rest all "sinkers." While Clint Bancroft has noticed no difference in germination success between floaters and sinkers, one still wonders whether harvesting of ripe seeds, followed by immediate removal of fleshy skins and embedding them into moist sphagnum moss, and then immediate mailing might eventually yield one of our most viable seed distribution/planting efforts thus far.
• October 2020 / Connie Barlow / Torreya Guardians excluded from participation in Recovery Plan Update
It was a shock this month to stumble on the fact that not only was the 2020 recovery plan update for Florida Torreya finalized and published without our awareness in July 2020, but that the Recovery Working Group met back in April 2019 and we were not invited. This is in sharp contrast to the invitation we received to contribute our perspective as part of the Recovery Working Group in 2010. (Documentation of our participation in 2010, our written comments, and the comments contributed by well-known scientists we recruited to participate are all filed online here: 2010 Torreya Guardians participation in recovery planning.)
In the image below I have highlighted my name, Connie Barlow, and that of Russell Regnery, listed as Torreya Guardians. Accordingly, although we two Torreya Guardians were the only ones to vote "yes" in 2010 on including actual experimentation in "assisted migration" (AM) northward in the official plan, nevertheless the plan as written recognized our actions in process and offered pre-approval for collaborating institutions to begin planning for AM experimention if they so chose. Alas, there is no evidence that any of the officially recognized institutions chose to engage in such planning during the past ten years.
It is also shocking to notice the degeneration in the official plan itself by comparing the pdf of each available online: