Comments on/about Rewilding Torreya taxifolia
and Reports by Torreya Volunteers

Listed chronologically . . .


  • January 2017 / Fred Bess / The newly declared Torreya champion in Ohio is actually a big shrub

       Fred Bess (Cleveland OH Torreya Guardian) visited the newly declared "national champion" Torreya taxifolia at Spring Grove Cemetery.

    His conclusion: "It seems obvious that it is cutting-grown [not from seed], as it is an oversized bush."


  • December 2016 / Connie Barlow / Hi-res photos 2005 of champion Calif Torreya posted

       Back in 2005 when I made site visits to 5 regionally distinct areas of California where Torreya californica grew in the wild, the internet could only support small, low-resolution photos.

    Now I have a reason to post higher resolution versions of the 2005 images in order to try to discern whether the then-champion tree (which died in 2014) may actually have been 2 merged stems.


  • November 2016 / Nelson Stover / 1/3 of free-planted Torreya seeds germinated within 2 years

       Summary of results: Nelson wrote: "Elaine and I conducted another photo examination of the initial plantings. Yesterday we found 10 seedlings from 30 seeds."

    Editor's notes: Nelson and Elaine Stover live in Greensboro, NC (elevation 1,000 feet). Visit the Greensboro Torreya webpage dedicated to their Torreya work; many photos and detailed photo-essays in pdf are available from there.

    "Free-planting" refers to planting seeds directly into woodland soil (rather than starting them in protected pots or seed beds). The greatest challenges to free-planting are (a) seeds may be dug up and eaten by rodents, and (b) the young seedlings may be partially or entirely nibbled by deer and rabbits. At least 1 (possibly 2) of the germinated seedlings were killed by leaf herbivory within a year of germination.


  • November 2016 / Clint Bancroft / cuttings from and measurements of the biggest Florida Torreya

       Jack Johnston and I made a pilgrimage to Columbus (Georgia) where we collected 6 gallon-size bags of cuttings from the old Torreya. These have been distributed among four different propagators so we hope for the best. I have probably a hundred cuttings myself, so if we have even modest success we will have succeeded in saving the genes of this venerable tree.

    Jack and I were able to measure the tree's circumference. At four feet from the ground it measures an impressive 80 inches!

    (We were not able to locate the stump next door which was the remains of the second Torreya. There were a couple of stumps in the yard but they were rotting.)

    Editor's note: Establishing the circumference is important because, following the death of the old Torreya in Norlina, NC, a Florida Torreya in an arboretum in Ohio had been listed as the species champion (here) — but the Ohio tree circumference is just 52 inches.


  • November 2016 / Jack Johnston and Connie Barlow / Nursery near Atlanta has 2-year-old potted seedlings for sale

       Jack wrote: "Nearly Native Nursery has many Torreya seedlings for sale. I visited recently and saw the young plants that are one or two years old."

    Connie wrote: Excellent supplier: Here is their Florida Torreya webpage. Know that to comply with the Endangered Species Act, purchasers must go to the nursery to buy seedlings; then you can drive across state lines legally with the seedlings. The ESA law simply dis-allows "sales" in interstate commerce. We Torreya Guardians operate strictly by gifting; but nurseries need to stay in business. Learn more about how commercial nurseries assist endangered plants.


  • November 2016 / Connie Barlow / Proposal to University of Washington to Inventory Sequoias

       Because I am in the Pacific NW from September 2016 thru January 2017, I decided to use my experience with Torreya Guardians to advocate for preliminary data collection in advance of potential "assisted migration" of two California native tree species that are likely to become "climate refugees" this century.

    Hence a proposal I submitted to University of Washington's new Center for Creative Conservation to initiate student projects and citizen science to simply inventory the whereabouts, health, and "naturalization" (seed dispersal capacity) of the Giant Sequoias and Coast Redwoods that landscapers have long been planting in the Pacific Northwest. Proposal: "Redwood and Sequoia Inventory for Puget Sound Region".

    Update: Connie's proposal was not accepted for further development.

    Above: Connie in front of a redwood tree planted in 1947 in Seabeck Washington (west side of Puget Sound). She is pointing toward the wild forest where multi-age redwoods growing amidst the dominant Douglas-fir indicate that this California species is not only capable of growing far north of its "native range" but that it can reproduce and establish with no additional human assistance.


  • November 2016 / Connie Barlow / Connie Barlow meets key assisted migration forest researcher

       November 4 I spent the day with one of the most respected forest geneticists undertaking research to ascertain how far native trees of the western USA will need to move poleward (or upslope) during this century of rapid climate change. Pictured left: me with Gerald (Jerry) Rehfeldt.

    First, we met with 4 of his peers at the U.S. Forest Service research station in Moscow, Idaho. After lunch, 4 of us ventured south to Lewiston, where we visited the grove of Arizona Cypress that has been growing well in a xeric garden there since 1995, thanks to Jerry. I posted a photo-essay of our Lewiston visit.


  • October 2016 / Chris Larson / Florida's Shoal Sanctuary success with free-planting Torreya seeds

       Autumn 2016 a Florida Arborist posted a 10-minute VIDEO on youtube that is a quick tour of Shoal Sanctuary. Shoal Sanctuary is in the panhandle of Florida, west of the protected critical habitat of the species along the Apalachicola River. (Video is also posted on the webpage of Torreya plantings at Shoal Sanctuary.)

    See one of the magnificent early Torreya plantings in the uplands area at timecode 01:38 and see one of the newly sprouted seeds directly planted into the cool, moist ground of the ravine at 07:08.

    Note: In March 2015 Chris Larson organized groups of scout, church, and other youth to plant seeds of Torreya taxifolia that were donated for this purpose by Torreya Guardians. For details and photos, see Photo-essay: Children Plant Torreya Seeds at Shoal Sanctuary (FL) (which is updated as project produces results).


  • September 2016 / Frank Callahan / Torreya Guardians offered seeds from documented trees in Oregon

      

    "We have an abundant crop on two Torreya taxifolia trees in Medford, Oregon - and I do mean abundant!!! Please contact me if you could use some seeds. These are both monoecious trees that are loaded with fruit. Both trees are ca. 20 yrs. old." (email from Frank Callahan)

    December 2016 update: Several Torreya Guardians received 2016 seeds from Callahan, and we created a new Oregon ex-situ page for posting photos and results ongoingly.

    Editor's note: Frank Callahan, a conifer aficionado who specializes in the genera Pinus and Cupressus, has nominated more than 80 National Champion Trees certified by American Forest in Washington, D.C. He has published in Herbertia and Phytologia (Calochortus syntrophus/C. coxii) and revised the entire genus Calochortus in Bulbs of North America. Frank owns and operates Callahan Seeds. See a full biography of Callahan in a 2009 issue of the journal of the Native Plant Society of Oregon. Torreya Guardians is fortunate to have received this offer from Frank. We will soon create a webpage For the full and continuing correspondence with Frank. Access a short biography of Frank on page 15 of a 2013 issue of the same journal, at the end of his coauthored historical report, "Botanizers in the Land of Conifers.
        Frank has been instrumental in effectively doing (solo) an emergency assisted migration of the gravely endangered Chihuahua Spruce (of NW Mexico). The local paper in Medford Oregon published a news article in 2007 of Frank's role in acquiring seedlings of the spruce in Mexico and planting them 25 years ago in a Medford local park. Read this news report online: "Pair team up to save endangered trees". Frank is quoted that the Chihuahua Spruce he planted had begun producing seeds and that the trees were doing well: "It's the spruce on steroids."
         Go to the Torreya californica page on The Gymnosperm Database website and do an internal search for "Callahan." There you will see Frank's involvement in documenting ages of fallen specimens of the oldest California Torreya trees, including one whose disk contained 480 rings over a diameter of 45 cm. He also recently documented that the then-champion tree that Connie was photographed standing alongside in 2005 near Santa Cruz (which fell in 2011) had a disk of 286 rings in a diameter of 204 cm (29 meters tall).


  • August 2016 / by Connie Barlow / Video posted that celebrates tree-planting mythic story

       Pt. 7D: ASSISTED MIGRATION MYTHIC INTERLUDE

    This is the fourth installment in the Alligator Juniper Assisted Range Expansion series within Connie Barlow's Climate, Trees, and Legacy video series, posted on another website. She is cross-posting that video here because it centers on an award-winning 1987 video of the key mythic story (by Jean Giono) that motivates her action: "The Man Who Planted Trees".

    14 minutes - published 10 August, 2016.    WATCH


  • August 2016 / by Connie Barlow / New discoveries shape best practices for planting Torreya

       In 2016 a paper was published in Science that requires an immense worldview shift in how we study and interpret forestry results. "Belowground carbon trade among tall trees in a temperate forest", by Tamir Klein et al. (2 pages), is a must-read for all Torreya planters. Planting Torreya seeds or seedlings beneath a mature deciduous canopy will ensure drought and winter-wind protection, while offering opportunities for the young trees to receive sugars from the canopy via fungal root connections — so long as canopy trees include those using ENDO (not ECTO) mycorrhizal types. To learn about this amazing discovery via video format, watch this 15-minute TED talk by forester Suzanne Simard in 2016: "How Trees Talk to Each Other".


  • July 2016 / of Lee Barnes / First video "Torreya Guardian Profile": Lee Barnes

       21: Torreya Guardian Profile: Lee Barnes (VIDEO: 16 minutes)

    Lee Barnes is a founding Torreya Guardian, with the longest tenure of work with Torreya taxifolia. From 1981-85 his graduate research entailed advanced propagation techniques for three endangered plants in Torreya State Park of Florida — Torreya among them. Here Lee speaks of his research, his early role in securing Torreya seeds for distribution to volunteer planters, and his broader frame of biodiversity-centric life work. Lee confirms that North Carolina is excellent habitat for this Florida species — and that it is crucial to experiment with plantings much farther north as climate continues to change.

  • July 2016 / by Connie Barlow / Two-part video report of 8-year old plantings in Lake Junaluska, NC

       20a: Root-eating rodents kill endangered Florida Torreya at Junaluska NC

    Of the 5 remaining Torreyas planted in 2008 at the lower end of the garden, 2 were killed by rodents eating the tree roots overwinter 2015/16 and another is gravely injured in the same way. Both of the uninjured young trees are being dangerously encroached upon by rapidly expanding rhododendron patches. Connie Barlow narrates, with assistance by Michael Dowd. Note: This is a 2016 follow-up to 10b video filmed 2015 at Corneille Bryan Garden in Lake Junaluska, NC.

    29 minutes - filmed 21 May 2016


       20b: Two biggest Florida Torreya trees still thriving at Junaluska NC in 2016

    Both trees planted in full sun (as potted seedlings) in the upper end of Corneille Bryan Garden in 2008 are continuing to excel — despite now being fully shaded by deciduous border and canopy. A key finding is that neither specimen produced vertical apical growth in 2015, but both are doing so in 2016.

    21 minutes - filmed 21 May 2016


  • July 2016 / by Connie Barlow / Video report posted on youtube of superb growth on Torreyas in central Ohio

       13b: Florida Torreya to Ohio's Dawes Arboretum (pt b) 2016

    Documents superb annual growth on the two Florida Torreya specimens beneath a full deciduous canopy (and protected from winter winds by a border of evergreen conifers). Confirms 1-month difference in vegetational budburst bt the Florida Torreya (May budburst) and adjacent Chinese Torreya (June budburst). Speculation on the importance of nearby maple helping the Torreyas by shared fungal root symbionts.

    17 minutes - filmed June 18, 2016


  • July 2016 / by Connie Barlow / Information on uses of Torreya grandis seeds in Chinese markets

       I have a "Google Alert" for keyword "torreya", so I know that the seed of the Chinese species of genus Torreya is a commercial product (photo left). A 2016 Chinese article (in English) linked here gives a hint at how complicated the processing is from seeds grown in a tended 500-year-old grove. "After the seeds are harvested, they must go through a month of natural fermentation, as well as two separate manual frying processes. Only then will they become the golden aromatic nuts that appear on store shelves. The complexity of the process has always caused Torreya to fetch a high market price."


  • June 2016 / by Connie Barlow / More experimentation needed in "free-planting" Torreya seeds

       After two winters in the ground in southern Ohio, 3 of the initial 18 seeds "free-planted" were visible above ground. All 18 seeds had been intentionally planted on very steep slopes in full-canopy deciduous moist forest in a ravine. The intent was to ensure that no buck deer would be able to rub against a torreya sapling to dislodge antler velvet (as this is a big problem almost everywhere that torreyas grow). All 18 seeds were planted shallow in the soil, with no rock protection — and all 3 successes are very near downed logs or large branches. Conclusion: As of 2016 Connie is very unsure of the best techniques for free-planting Torreya taxifolia!
         More experimentation is needed. See more photos and information in the free-planting section of the propagate page.


  • July 2016 / by Connie Barlow / New section added to "Assisted Migration Scholarly Links"

    Since 2007 I have been posting annotated links on a webpage dedicated to keeping track and ensuring easy access to research papers and news reports on the the topic of "assisted migration". We at Torreya Guardians were prominently mentioned in those early papers and reports, because at the time Torreya taxifolia was about the only example of a species actually being deliberately moved poleward to escape the adverse impacts of climate change already experienced in its native range. Because that webpage is so voluminous, I just added a new, directly accessible section that will list new entries by year.
        Check out the 2 entries thus far included for 2016. Highly recommended for its superb background and implications for North American forests is the July 2016 article in The Economist, titled "Ravaged Woodlands."


  • May 2016 / by Buford Pruitt and Connie Barlow / Video report posted on youtube of trees in Brevard NC

       19a: Florida Torreya to Brevard NC: 2016 Report

    Buford Pruitt leads Connie Barlow on a video tour of his 17 Torreya taxifolia caged seedlings, planted in partial sun offered by his homesite edges in a regrowth forest near Brevard NC. Significant findings: Watch an "autopsy" of the one plant that died during the winter, and see evidence rodent predation of roots and lower bark. Learn how to assess plant vigor and important measurements to record. Notice the "basal sprouts" and why they should never be pruned back. Buford's trees are all from 2010, 2011, and 2012 Torreya Guardians seed harvests.

    45 minutes - filmed 25 May 2016


       19b: Florida Torreya to Brevard NC: 2016 Report

    The last half of Buford Pruitt's tour of his 16 still-living caged seedlings. Three apparently are planted on the compacted soil of an old logging road, and are struggling. Connie steers a discussion of the overall forest health: Why is there so little greenery on the forest floor? Pieced in are video segments of the lush greenery surrounding the original torreya plantings at the Waynesville site, 700 feet higher in elevation and on a far steeper (never cattle-grazed?) slope. Overall, this 2-part series is a superb video for all new Torreya Guardians to watch — in order to help them assess their own properties for where best to plant seedlings.

    35 minutes - filmed 25 May 2016


  • April 2016 / by Connie Barlow / Article offers shift in conservation outlook (by Janet Marinelli)

       "As World Warms, How Do We Decide When a Plant is Native?"

    Old-time Torreya Guardians will remember botanist-writer Janet Marinelli accompanying us during our 2008 North Carolina seedling planting adventure. Janet's essay on our project appeared in a 2010 issue of Audubon Magazine: "Guardian Angels". This month, Janet continues her exploration of "assisted migration" of native plants northward during this time of rapid climate change. Her online essay in Yale Environment 360 explores the inadvertent assistance provided to one of America's most beautiful understory forest trees, Umbrella Magnolia — 150 years ago at the home of poet Emily Dickinson.

    EXCERPTS: "Among the plants that survive on the family property where Dickinson confined herself for much of her adult life are picturesque old trees called umbrella magnolias (Magnolia tripetala) — so named because their leaves, which can reach two feet long, radiate out from the ends of branches like the spokes of an umbrella. The trees, believed to have been planted by Emily's brother Austin, have jumped the garden gate in recent decades and established wild populations not far from the poet's home. This new location is a couple of hundred miles north of the tree's native range, centered in the sheltered woods and ravines of the Appalachian Mountains, and is the first evidence that native plant horticulture in the United States "is giving some species a head-start on climate change," according to Smith College biologist Jesse Bellemare.
         "Ironically, the denizen of the Dickinson homestead is also challenging basic precepts of conservation practice, such as what is the definition of 'native'? Are climate refugees that hitchhike north via horticulture less worthy of protection than plants that arrive on their own? Do they pose a threat to existing native species? Should native plant gardening, the domestic form of assisted migration, be used to help plants stranded in inhospitable habitat?"
         Click to continue reading the article. Click also to the Magnolia section of our links webpage (then scroll) to read excerpts of Jesse Bellemare's 2015 paper on the discovery of Umbrella Magnolia escapees.


  • April 2016 / by Daein Ballard / New Hampshire Torreyas survive their first winter

    April 2016 UPDATE: "I just wanted to let you know that Kinder Morgan suspended the Northeast Energy Direct project — which was the gas pipeline project that was supposed to affect my property. Doesn't mean it's dead for good, but it's very good news nonetheless. On a side note, it seems all of my Torreya have made it through winter alive."

    February 2016 UPDATE: "Last weekend it got down to -14F, with a wind chill of -40F, which is a new low temp since I moved here. I've looked at all the Torreya and in spite of their young age they all pulled through completely unscathed. Since then it's gotten over 50F twice to give the seedlings a chance to show signs of damage if there was any. This is with all of the seedlings being at least partially exposed, since the snow was only a few inches deep. Even the most exposed seedlings in open areas show no ill effects."

    Click to access the New Hampshire Torreya webpage.


  • March 2016 / by Connie Barlow / New hour-long video narrates site visits to Torreyas at Biltmore Gardens

       VIDEO: Florida Torreya Grove at Biltmore Gardens NC: 75 years old

    In 1939 Chauncey Beadle supplied the Biltmore Estate with a dozen Torreya taxifolia seeds or specimens collected in Florida — prior to any understanding of climate change and endangered species. Now this 75-year-old grove and its offspring are precious for securing the wellbeing of the species and for demonstrating that (with little human help) North Carolina is an ideal habitat for escaping the native diseases of a now too-warm Florida. Connie Barlow narrates photos and videos she captured on site visits to the Biltmore: February 2004, August 2006, and April 2015.

    1 hour - assembled and posted March 15, 2016


  • March 2016 / by Connie Barlow / New US Forest Service Report Features Florida Torreya Assisted Migration

  • Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands in the United States: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis, James Vose et al., editors (300 pages in pdf; collaborative effort of 77 scientists).

    Although this document pertains to projecting and managing for drought the forests of the USA, it necessarily deals with the whole of climate change. This document is highly recommended as an overview of the current research and for its superb lists of key references by chapter. Only one tree species is mentioned in having ASSISTED MIGRATION underway in the USA:

       p. 81 "Centuries of horticultural and decades of silvicultural practices show that growth and establishment (reproductive success) of many tree species is possible well outside of their native ranges. Many commercial (e.g., loblolly pine) and ornamental species have had their ranges greatly expanded across the Southeastern United States. The widespread plantings of the southern magnolia in the southeastern Piedmont (Gruhn and White 2011) and upper Coastal Plain, and bois d'arc (Maclura pomifera) across the Eastern United States (Burton 1990) are examples of such facilitated migrations, helping to establish these species well beyond their native ranges. While these cultivated successes could be viewed as examples of the potential conservation value of assisted migration, far less is known about the likelihood of success of this management practice for the species most directly threatened by climate-induced environmental change. Efforts are currently underway to see if assisted migration can help with the federally endangered Florida torreya (Torreya taxifolia) as well as a number of other tree species imperiled by the anticipated impacts of increased drought and higher temperatures on their limited native distributions (McLachlan and others 2007, Williams and Dumroese 2013).

    Note: In March, I checked with our staff contact at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to see if they now regard their ex situ Torreya plantings in northern Georgia as being a foundational component of a developing assisted migration project. Her answer was no. So the reference to Florida Torreya assisted migration in this U.S. Forest Service report is referring entirely to the project initiated by TORREYA GUARDIANS.


  • January 2016 / by Connie Barlow / New hour-long VIDEO posted of basic Torreya background

       VIDEO: Site Visits to Florida's Endangered Torreya and Yew Trees

    Connie Barlow presents 15 years of baseline photos and videos she recorded of Torreya taxifolia and Taxus floridana in their historically native range in Torreya State Park in northern Florida. Photos of spectacular California Torreya trees, recorded by Barlow in 2005, show the potential for Florida Torreya recovery efforts to strive for. Fred Bess shows (in 2014 video) 2 Asian conifers (Cephalotaxus and Cunninghamia) used in landscaping that are Torreya look-alikes. Paleoecological evidence that Florida's Torreya was "left behind" in its peak glacial refuge supports "assisted migration" actions.


  • January 2016 / by Court Lewis / Report on seed planting using can protection

       Court Lewis (TN) received his first set of seeds in November 2015. He decided to use the can technique suggested by Jack Johnston.

    Photos LEFT by Court show his final stages of planting. Read his detailed methodology (with more photos) here in PDF. He planted 2 seeds per can — one scarified and the other not. His results will help us evaluate the benefits of scarification.

    30 seeds were planted in this fashion, 2 per can. "Five additional seeds are planted without cans — but 5 inches deep, well below the frost zone, so it will be interesting if they show different results from the other 30 (and whether rodents can detect them at that depth)."


  • January 2016 / by Connie Barlow / Updated list "Assisted Migration Scholarly Links" (new table of contents)

  • January 2016 / by Connie Barlow / Inspirational Video for Planting Trees
        
    Award-winning animated video excerpts the allegorical tale by French author Jean Giono, 1953.

    This is the mythic story to inspire all of us — conservation biologists, forest managers, and involved citizens — to pull ourselves out of despair over the looming impacts of climate change and get on with the great work of planting (and moving!) trees.

  • Wikipedia entry
  • Video (in full) on youtube
  • DVD via Amazon

  • December 2015 / by Connie Barlow / First success of "free-planting" seeds under rocks
          Connie Barlow reports 5 seedlings newly emerged from beneath large flat rocks 2 years after planting. The free-planting section of the Propagate page contains the detailed photo-essay.

    Results include: (a) Never plant seeds under or near a log; (b) Rocks distant from vole hiding places work best; (c) Expect the seedling to emerge always on the upslope side of the rock; (d) Success rates for good placement of rocks probably range from 20 to 50% max; (e) Expect seedlings to become visible above ground in about 2 years minimum (after 2 winters).

    Barlow recommends these additional questions for volunteer testing: (1) Are there any insects (ants?) detrimental to seed germination under a rock? and (2) If a seed is planted very deep (approx 4 inches) out in the open, with no rock protection, will squirrels be unable to smell it?


  • December 2015 / by Lee Barnes / Online Torreya photos via Encyclopedia of Life
           Genus Torreya in online Encyclopedia of Life

    The Encyclopedia of Life online has a lot of photos of genus Torreya — especially the one Californian and several Asian native species. For example, the photo left of ripe seeds of California Torreya confirms that this sister species has the same seed shape and color as Torreya Guardians have documented of North Carolina plantings of the Florida Torreya. (If you click on the "original" link associated with each photo, you will sometimes find not only the original photo but detailed information on date and place.)


  • December 2015 / by Connie Barlow & Daein Ballard / Photo-essay of 2015 Torreya planting in New Hampshire
          Torreya Guardians sent a new volunteer, Daein Ballard, 40 seeds from our 2013 harvest.

    By the summer of 2015, most had germinated (indoors, in pots), so Daein planted them on his property in regrowth forest.

    Thus Torreya taxifolia is newly rewilded in New Hampshire, as of 2015. Daein's photos (with captions) now appear on a New Hampshire page on this website.

    This planting will be an important field experiment to test just how far north this "Florida" conifer is capable of growing in today's climate — and in the climate changes ahead.

    Note: The yellow arrows point to locations of two of the seedlings.


  • December 2015 / by Connie Barlow / 2015 book features Torreya Guardians in chapter on Florida Torreya
          In 2015, Kara Rogers published a book (left) that includes a detailed chapter on Florida Torreya (University of Arizona Press). The end of that chapter highlights the work of TORREYA GUARDIANS.

    Access sample excerpts here.

    The Quiet Extinction: Stories of North America's Rare and Threatened Plants is also accessible via google books.

      


  • November 2015 / by Nelson Stover / 20% success rate after 24 months of "free-planting" Torreya seeds directly into forested property
          Free-planting success in Greensboro NC: Nov 2013 Nelson and Elaine Stover received and "free-planted" directly into their rural property a total of 30 seeds from two of our freshly harvested seed sources.

    Exactly 2 years later (Nov 2015), they made a careful survey of their plantings and discovered that 6 of the 30 were now visible seedlings, including the photo at left. This is a success rate of 20%.

    Whether the remaining 80% of the seeds failed to germinate, were dug up and eaten by squirrels, or may germinate in future years is unknown. But the Stover experiment sets (thus far) a superb "free-planting" success rate of 1 in 5.

    Note: See the kink in the lower stem. Nelson reports that a branch probably fell on it, as the setting is wild. "I found it while clearing off the leaves."

      


  • November 2015 / by Lamar Marshall / Cowee Valley NC seed germination success and outplanting
          Lamar Marshall received seeds from our 2013 harvest.

    He began out-planting the seedlings in 2015 (2,200 foot elevation), choosing an orchard style planting pattern on open ground next to his house (with lots of sun). The intent is to maximize growth so that this grove can begin producing seeds for future seed distribution.

    See the new Cowee Valley, NC Torreya page of his early results.

      


  • November 2015 / by Connie Barlow / The Economist magazine features Torreya Guardians in their special issue on Climate

    Just before the global climate conference in Paris, The Economist featured an 8-part "special report" on climate change. The biodiversity section highlights the work of Torreya Guardians as the USA example of climate adaptation underway. Connie Barlow was quoted, "We are the radical edge of what is going to become a mainstream action." Online access: "A Modern Ark: To save endangered species move them to more congenial places".

    Only after she was interviewed did Connie learn (thanks to another journalist) of an even more substantial "assisted migration" project well established in the USA. A large timber company in California is receiving seeds from all 75 distinct groves of GIANT SEQUOIA (donated by the various state and federal public agencies managing each grove), and then is out-planting the germinated seedlings into recent small clearcuts on company properties as much as 200 miles northward. The private-public agreement is that this action will ultimately serve as the beginnings of new Old Growth Sequoia groves for the centuries ahead (as climate change is expected to extinguish the existing groves). Click to read a summary and access the timber company's 2015 report on the Sequoia assisted migration project.


       VIDEO: Foresters Outpace Conservation Biologists in Climate Adaptation

    The "assisted migration" ongoing project of Torreya Guardians is regularly cited in academic literature on climate adaptation controversies in biodversity and ecosystems protection. Here, Connie Barlow presents the first (highly illustrated) talk to professionals. Speaking to faculty and students at Michigan Technological University's School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Barlow presents the history of the "assisted migration" controversy — highlighting the reasons why foresters have already taken actions where conservation biologists fear to tread. (filmed Sept 11, 2015)

    Note: This video is episode 08 in an ongoing video series by Barlow on forestry and climate adaptation. See an annotated list of titles and links to all such videos here: "CLIMATE, TREES, and LEGACY".


  • October 2015 / by Connie Barlow / Tennessee chapter of Sierra Club posts Torreya Guardians article in newsletter
       Citizen Science Project Seeks Tennessee Climate-Forestry Volunteers.

    The Sept-Oct 2015 newsletter of the Tennes-Sierran newsletter contains an article soliciting volunteers in Tennessee to begin planting Torreya taxifolia seeds in their state. Click the image left and then scroll down the online pdf to page 8 in order to read the full article.

    Nov 2015 update: Thus far, 5 residents of Tennessee have volunteered to plant Torreya seeds on their forested properties, thanks to this article.


  • August 2015 / by Connie Barlow / 1984 listing of Torreya as endangered now online

    Periodically, I check the wikipedia entry for Torreya taxifolia. Doing so today, I discovered that the 1984 establishment of "Florida Torreya" as an endangered species is now online. Significantly, this conifer was recognized as a Pleistocene relict right from the get-go. See key excerpts from the 1984 documentation I just added to our why torreya is endangered webpage. Also, access directly the entire Federal Register 1984 document. I also added this note to our webpage titled "Paleoecology and the Assisted Migration Debate: Why a Deep-Time Perspective Is Vital":

    No mention of Torreya taxifolia as a Pleistocene relict, nor its endemic habitat as a glacial "refugium" appears in the current recovery plan for this species: "Torreya taxifolia, Florida Torreya, 5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation. Thus the recovery emphasis has been on continuing to identify the disease-causing agents and employ management techniques within the native habitat to combat the pathogens. The management plan for Torreya taxifolia has yet to catch up with the management agency's ongoing shift to adapt to ongoing climate change. See a 2015 editorial in Conservation Biology by Mark Shaffer of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: "Changing Filters".

  • July 2015 / by Connie Barlow / PHOTO-ESSAY: Children Plant Torreya Seeds at Shoal Sanctuary (FL)
       Photo-essay: Children Plant Torreya Seeds at Shoal Sanctuary (FL).

    In March 2015 Chris Larson organized groups of scout, church, and other youth to plant seeds of Torreya taxifolia that were donated for this purpose by Torreya Guardians.

    Shoal Sanctuary is in the panhandle of Florida, west of the protected critical habitat of the species along the Apalachicola River.

  • June 2015 / by Connie Barlow / VIDEO: Rewilding Florida Torreya to Cullowhee, NC: 2015 report
       15a: Rewilding Florida Torreya to Cullowhee, NC - 2015 report. This wild forest site on Jim Thomson's property east of Cullowhee is the first location where Torreya Guardians have had access to a north-facing mountain slope, elevation 2,600 feet. Here they observe the 4 Torreya taxifolia seedlings that Jim planted 18 months earlier from their pots. 17 minutes - filmed April 27, 2015.

  • June 2015 / by Connie Barlow / VIDEO: Germinating Torreya Seeds: 2015 report
       15b: Germinating Torreya Seeds: 2015 report. Jim Thomson, Lee Barnes, and Connie Barlow discuss what we all have learned thus far about how to germinate Florida Torreya seeds outdoors, in locales far north of the "historically native range". Seeds harvested from the same tree in the same year will span a number of years to germinate, even when planted under the same conditions. 13 minutes - filmed April 29, 2015.

  • June 2015 / by Connie Barlow / VIDEO: Final segment of 2015 progress report on our 2008 rewilding action
       10B: FL Torreya to North Carolina (pt 2): 2015 progress report (Junaluska, NC).

    Second half of video progress report on our 2008 rewilding to North Carolina. Key findings include recommendations for measuring vigor, perils of cohabiting with rhodies, long-term negative consequences of planting root-bound conifers, the stress of seedlings needing to re-orient growth to wild light conditions. 45 minutes - filmed April 25, 2015.

  • June 2015 / by Connie Barlow / VIDEO: Free-planting torreya seeds directly into wild forest
       14: Free-Planting Torreya Seeds into Wild Forest: 2015 report. Best practices discovered by Torreya Guardians in attempting to plant seeds directly into the soil of wild forest in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Preliminary results confirm that planting beneath flat rocks and beneath a thatch of branches were both effective in deterring squirrels. However, the results are mixed for voles. This video chronicles Connie's visit to the Waynesville NC site 17 months after planting seeds. 47 minutes - filmed April 24, 2015.

  • May 2015 / by Connie Barlow / VIDEO: Dawes Arboretum, Ohio, progress report on Torreya plantings
       13: Florida Torreya to Ohio's Dawes Arboretum. Dawes Arboretum (Newark, Ohio) received ten seeds from Torreya Guardians from the 2006 harvest by Biltmore Gardens (Asheville, NC). Possible learnings are: (1) A full deciduous canopy of oak and maple seems to be superb habitat for Torreya in central Ohio. (2) Exposure to full sun and especially to polar winds seem to be very stressful to this genus. Video also compares Florida Torreya's leaf and branch morphology against two sister species native to Asia that have been planted in Dawes Arboretum: Torreya grandis (China) and Torreya nucifera (Japan). 23 minutes - filmed May 17, 2015.

  • May 2015 / by Connie Barlow / VIDEO: Progress report of seedlings planted in 2008 near Franklin NC
       12: FL Torreya to Franklin, North Carolina: 2015 progress report
    Russ Regnery leads Connie Barlow on a tour of his young torreya trees. Topics include (1) the advantage of shading screen during the early years if Torreya is in full-sun, (2) how Torreya is vulnerable to winter sun and wind scalding/dessication if not protected by a canopy, (3) advantages of planting near nurse trees for shading and for sharing their symbiotic root fungi. "Free-planting" seeds from the 2014 seed harvest directly beneath the forest canopy is the final half of the video.   32 minutes - filmed April 29, 2015.

  • May 2015 / by Connie Barlow / VIDEO: Torreya pictured in MinuteEarth video on extinction/conservation priorities
       Peter Reich, professor in the Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota, visited the 2008 plantings by Torreya Guardians at Corneille Bryan Native Plant Garden in Waynesville NC this month. Photo left is Peter standing with the fastest growing of the Torreyas there. Sara Evans alerted us that Peter's son, Henry Reich, includes Torreya in an episode in his animated video shorts series, MinuteEarth, on youtube. The series is "an energetic and entertaining view of trends in earth's environment — in just a few minutes."

  • April 2015 / by Connie Barlow / VIDEO: 90-year-old "rewilded" Torreya grove documented in Highlands NC by Torreya Guardians
       11: FL Torreya to Highlands NC: 90 years of de facto rewilding (2015)

    "Assisted migration" for climate-endangered Florida Torreya inadvertently began 90 years ago, when botanist Thomas Harbison planted this conifer species on his mountainside land in Highlands, NC. April 2015, Torreya Guardians documented this gone-wild grove — likely, the best and oldest example of how this ancient native lineage grows beneath a deciduous canopy and its slow dispersal by squirrels. Connie Barlow narrates with camera; Jack Johnston assesses the Torreya grove and surrounding plants. 28 minutes

  • April 2015 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / PHOTO-ESSAY: Could Florida Torreya Take the Place of Eastern Hemlock?

    This week I finished compiling a richly illustrated proposal that I will be advocating to various foresters and forestry institutions: Could Florida Torreya Take the Place of Eastern Hemlock?. The Asian Woolly Adelgid is destroying hemlock groves from North Carolina to Pennsylvania. Two frigid winters have set back its invasion in New Hampshire. But in the southern Appalachians, the prognosis is dark. Conservation professionals tend to think of Torreya taxifolia as a weak and fragile species — which it certainly is in Florida, but not in North Carolina! I have therefore compiled photos of our finest Torreya groves in North Carolina, and I have bolstered my proposal with photos I took on site visits in 2005 to soaring giants of the California species of genus Torreya. Visit the page and see for yourself!

  • April 2015 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / Higher resolution photos now on the 2006 site visit webpage of the 90-year old rewilded Torreyas growing near Highlands, NC

    Since I am inhabiting a home near Cashiers NC this month, I am eager to arrange a second site visit to, what I now believe is, the most important Torreya grove in the eastern USA. The late Bob Zahner had told us that this grove was planted in the 1920s. Not only are the original trees in fine shape, but the squirrels have obviously been spreading seeds nearby, some of which have become young trees, saplings, and newly emerged seedlings. Wow! Take a look at these 2006 photos and see if you agree that perhaps Torreya taxifolia could fill the ecological niche of our recently extirpated eastern hemlock. Its slow growth and ability to survive in deep shade is very similar to what our native hemlock was renowned for. Click to visit the Highlands Torreya Grove webpage.

  • April 2015 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / I'm video-documenting our tree/seed plantings in the southern Appalachians this month

       10: FL Torreya to North Carolina: 2015 progress report (Waynesville, NC)

    First video-documentation of fate of historic 2008 rewilding action of the endangered Torreya taxifolia from Florida to North Carolina. Connie Barlow films and narrates a survey of the 21 plants in wild forest on the slope of Eaglenest Mountain, near Waynesville. Most important results are both positive and negative, which help us ascertain the habitat preferences of this species (moisture, shade, slope, aspect).

       09: FL Torreya to Ocoee Watershed 2: Wolf Creek, NC 2015

    Thomas Mesko receives 43 Torreya taxifolia seeds from Connie Barlow, drawn from the 2014 harvest of Torreya Guardians. This video documents seeds being planted generally on north-facing slopes, between 1,600 and 1,800 feet elevation on Thomas's 50 acres of forested property along Wolf Creek, in the North Carolina section of the Ocoee Watershed.

       08: FL Torreya to Ocoee Watershed 1: Greasy Creek, TN 2015

    Clint Bancroft shows Connie Barlow the 9 Florida Torreyas he has planted on his 18 acres in southeastern Tennessee (plus 2 more in pots). At 1,100 ft elevation, and in a mixed deciduous/conifer forest, all the Torreyas look healthy. In closing, Connie gives Clint 40 seeds from the fall 2014 Torreya Guardians' harvest. Clint demonstrates his rodent-proof outdoor shelter for germinating those seeds.

  • March 2015 / by Fred Bess, Torreya Guardian / Torreya trees survive record cold February in Cleveland, Ohio

    The Torreya came through better than last year. Unlike last winter, I treated all of the trees with anti-desiccant to reduce windburn damage and it worked pretty well. Only the windward side of the trees had any damage, and it was far less than last year. [Read more and see Fred's winter photos at our Cleveland Ohio Torreya webpage].

  • March 2015 / by Chris Larson, Torreya Guardian / Torreya seeds planting underway at Grotto Ravine, Shoal Sanctuary FL

    "Our Torreya seed planting project is well under way. Some are already in the ground in Grotto Ravine. We are mapping, documenting, and photographing galore. 14 boy scouts are coming with their parents this Saturday to plant. The rest will be in the ground on Sunday when some girl scouts and folks from University of FL come with their children. Photos will be labeled and sent once we get all the seeds safe in the ground. It's a great project. You'd love the kids' enthusiasm."

  • March 2015 / by Chris Larson, Torreya Guardian / Torreya trees protected during controlled burn in Florida

    "Here are photos for the Shoal Sanctuary FL webpage, taken during the burn. The fire crew was eager to hear about Torreyas — and to get their picture taken helping to protect them, especially the one we named Burn Torreya. We are all safe and sound."

    Editor's note: Most of the acreage at the privately owned Shoal Sanctuary (west of Torreya State Park in the panhandle of Florida) is managed for longleaf pine forest restoration. That requires periodic subcanopy burns. No burn was possible in 2014 because of windy, dry weather. But mid March 2015 offered a superb day for controlled burning. Click to see the burn photos.

  • March 2015 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / Now we know that Glomus is the fungal symbiont for Torreya — and which trees naturally harbor that genus of mycorrhizae

    In early March I had email communications with a Smithsonian molecular plant ecologist who did research on Torreya taxifolia, but who has not yet published her results in a scholarly paper. We are grateful that Melissa McCormick gave us a summary of her findings. She identified Glomus as the genus of mycorrhizal fungi that associates with Torreya taxifolia. I have added her advice and the list of common trees that do harbor Glomus and the list of those that do not. Visit this section of the Propagate page: Encouraging SYMBIOTIC MYCORRHIZAL FUNGI. Henceforth, we would be wise to mix into pots for seed germination soil from beneath favorable tree species in the locales where ultimately the seedlings will be out-planted.

  • March 2015 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / Conservation Biologists Lag Behind Forestry Researchers in Assisted Migration for Climate Adaptation

    On March 4 I sent an email to UK conservation biologist Sarah Dalrymple. Because it is the most complete explication I have yet written on the worldview distinctions between conservation biologists and forestry researchers re assisted migration for climate adaptation, I have posted my side of the correspondence in pdf here: "Conservation Biologists Lag Behind Forestry Researchers in Assisted Migration for Climate Adaptation".

  • February 2015 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / Torreya Guardians has presence on ResearchGate

    Because I am the author of several peer-reviewed scientific papers and book chapters, I have an authorized presence on the scientific networking site, ResearchGate. Recently, one researcher posed this Question: "Does anyone have any examples of assisted colonization, managed relocation or assisted migration in plants?

    The USF&WS staff person in charge of the recovery plan for Torreya taxifolia responded; her concluding comment: "I am the Recovery lead for Torreya taxifolia, and this conifer has been re-allocated by a group called the Torreya Guardians. I'm trying to direct their efforts, since it has not been base on science."

    That led to a lengthy response by me, posted in the dialogue. Because it is a useful summary of our tensions with the officials in charge of this species, and because I present our approach to field experimentation (in which negative results are not failures but help us in our ultimate quest to discover Torreya taxifolia's habitat preferences in northward realms), I think it is a useful document to include on our website. You can find it here: Researchgate Torreya Guardians Dialogue

  • February 2015 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / New webpage highlights VIDEOS by Torreya Guardians

       Fall of 2013 I began videoblogging about our Torreya Guardians work. My video reporting ramped up in 2014 to include videos of our fieldwork, because I acquired a small hand-held videocamera. As of February 2015, I have posted 7 videos about the work of Torreya Guardians. They are all listed and annotated on a new webpage: Videos by Torreya Guardians. The three most recent are:

  • 05: Torreya Trees at Shoal Sanctuary FL: pt 01 Four Torreyas on Sandy Uplands
  • 06: Torreya Trees at Shoal Sanctuary FL: pt 02 Grotto Ravine (preparing to plant seeds)
  • 07: Ancient Florida Torreya in Columbus, Georgia
  • February 2015 / by Lee R. Barnes, Torreya Guardian / Distribution of 450 T. taxifolia seeds from 2014 harvest in Clinton, NC

    Note: Lee sent this news/invitation to existing volunteer seed/seedling planters in North Carolina: "Torreya Guardians has about 450 stratified Torreya taxifolia seeds to distribute — all from the lone Torreya tree in Clinton, NC. (Ms. Kennedy's estate). I've cleaned and am stratifying the seeds now. We want to further distribute this genotype to those with previously distributed different genotypes (eg., GA, Biltmore Estate, Woodlanders, etc.) in an attempt to maintain and increase genetic diversity. We also want to invite Duke Gardens and JC Ralston Arboretum, who have existing tree(s).
         So I will distribute 20 stratified seeds-each packs in early April to any of you who request seeds. I'm open to sending additional seeds to particular projects that may need more seeds. I also prefer those who are set-up to raising seedlings vs. wild direct seeding but will not turn anyone down while seeds last. Thanks also for your many sharing of your successes and failures with Torreya. It's all great knowledge that we need to document and share!"
         Lee R. Barnes, Torreya Guardian, Waynesville NC (near Asheville). Contact Lee

  • January 2015 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / Philadelphia and Chicago urban forestry managers are now planting more southerly trees species

    "Climate change to Philly trees: It's not 1910 anymore" (news article) by Carolyn Beeler, 23 January 2015. Surveys Philadelphia and Chicago urban trees and parks managers who have already begun planting more southerly tree species on municipal lands. Joan Blaustein, head of urban forestry and ecosystem management at the Philadelphia Parks Department, is quoted: "We need to anticipate what the conditions are going to be 100 years from now, rather than trying to restore to 100 years ago." Beeler writes, "In the fall, the city will plant non-native trees suited to warmer climates, including the Southern chestnut oak and bald cypress, and plant some species native to Pennsylvania that are currently at the northern end of their range, such as the Southern red oak and red mulberry. . . In five years, Blaustein hopes the early results of her experimental test plots will give her an idea of which new trees to plant city-wide."

  • December 2014 / by Connie Barlow and Lee Barnes, Torreya Guardians / New Website Shows Movement/Adaptation Difficulties for USA Tree Species facing CLIMATE change
    Although none of the interactive climate-forestry sites (all coauthored by US Forest Service research staff and others) include Torreya taxifolia in their range-shift projections re climate change (2050 and 2100) we want to urge visitors to our website to check out these interactive sites online. The newest entry to this forestry-climate endeavor (third in the list below, which applies to the entire USA) is the first to include color-coded projections for which geographic populations of each tree species will have the greatest difficulties of moving or adapting to climate change. Here are the three:

    FORESTS OF USA

  • MAPS OF USA FOREST TREE SPECIES FUTURE RANGES:

        WESTERN USA: "Plant Species and Climate Profile Predictions". Highly detailed online maps to compare current, 2030, 2060, and 2090 range predictions for 76 species of western USA trees. (Always click on the .png versions to see the maps.) For example, Alligator Juniper, now absent from Colorado, is expected to have ideal range open up west of Denver in 2030, while southerly populations become stressed. (How are they going to get there, as the closest current population is near Santa Fe NM?) Note: A superb paper that details the data-source and modeling used to generate these range maps is "North American Vegetation Model for Land-Use Planning in a Changing Climate", 2012, G.E. Rehfeldt et al.

        EASTERN USA: Easy-to-use USFS webpage of maps imaging current and climate-shifted ranges of 134 tree species in eastern North America: Climate Change Tree Atlas interactive site. See also a multi-agency generated Forecasts Maps Projects for the Eastern USA.

        WHOLE USA: This forest tree website builds on the previous (above) two, while adding a new feature of color-coded images that show relative difficulties in moving/adapting of different geographic populations of each species. Access here: The ForeCASTS Project, subtitle: Forecasts of Climate-Associated Shifts in Tree Species.

  • November 2014 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / New York Times Op-Ed helps "assisted migration" move forward
    "How To Mend the Conservation Divide" was published Oct 31 in The New York Times. Co-authored by a leader in the "new conservation" (Emma Marris, who has reported on the actions of Torreya Guardians) and a senior scientist in the "old conservation" (Greg Aplet of The Wilderness Society), this advocacy piece helps to bridge the divide that has been problematic for we at Torreya Guardians. The Op-Ed begins,
    "A schism has recently divided those who love nature. 'New conservationists' have been shaking up the field, proposing new approaches that break old taboos — moving species to new ranges in advance of climate change, intervening in designated wilderness areas, using nonnative species as functional stand-ins for those that have become extinct, and embracing novel ecosystems that spring up in humanized landscapes. Some "old conservationists" have reacted angrily to this, preferring to keep the focus on protecting wilderness and performing classical restoration that keeps ecosystems as they were hundreds of years ago."
    Their proposed solution to the squabbling:
    "So what should we do? Should we continue to invest in keeping ecosystems in historical configurations? Should we attempt to engineer landscapes to be resilient to tomorrow's conditions? Or should we just let nature adapt on its own? We should do all three. In the face of great uncertainty, the sensible thing to do is hedge our bets and allocate large swaths of landscape to all three approaches: restoration, innovation and hands-off observation. . . No one approach will save everything. Ceasing all management will put many threatened species at risk for extinction. Restoring ecosystems to historical baselines may prevent them from adapting to change and lead to collapse. And innovation means creating untested systems that may also fail. Mistakes are inevitable. But at each site, we should fully commit to a single strategy. Otherwise, we risk a haphazard stew of approaches that don't meet any goal."
    I posted a comment (under my husband's subscription name, Michael Dowd), which became one of the "New York Times Picks". (Access it online by looking to the right of the article's title, and then clicking on "94 comments". From there, click on the "NYT Picks" tab). Here is the text of my comment, in which I mentioned the science being done by USFS researchers:
    That a leader in the new conservation (Ms. Marris) and a scientist employed by the symbol of the "old" (Mr. Aplet with the Wilderness Society) co-wrote this article is by itself cause for celebration. Yes, let us work together! A group I founded a decade ago, Torreya Guardians, has been the target of barbs since our 2008 eco-action of moving the endangered Florida Torreya tree poleward to North Carolina. Now I am using US Forest Service research reports to encourage other citizen-naturalists to (a) use the conclusions of science for (b) beginning to organize for moving even our common species of forest trees in the USA northward. That climate is changing is well known by the public; that it is orders of magnitude more rapid than our tree species have had to deal with in the past is less widely known.
        The oaks in particular have lost their long-distance disperser of seeds — and exactly 100 years ago. As a visitor to Washington D.C. this week (walking with The Great March for Climate Action), I went to the Smithsonian as a pilgrimage to the superb and mournful exhibit of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. Up one set of stairs I then visited the photo exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Wilderness Act. Was I the lone visitor who witnessed these exhibits with the sad knowledge of how they truly are linked?

  • November 2014 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / Two recent publications move assisted migration forward and reference Torreya Guardians

  • "Species Migration Shaping Ecosystems of the Future" by Ruby Russell, 14 October 2014, Deutsche Welle
    CONCLUDING EXCERPT: "Looking at all life-forms, it is trees that move the slowest. The majority of trees cannot keep pace with climate change," Torreya Guardians' founder Connie Barlow says, adding that the Florida torreya's seeds are too large to be carried by the wind or most animals. Assisted migration is controversial, but Barlow and others argue that on a continental landmass like Europe or North America, terrestrial species have shifted back and forth with climatic change over the millennia, so that what seem like 'new' species combinations have actually existed in the past.
         What is unprecedented is the rate at which climate change is now happening. Chris Thomas says this means defending current species combinations may not always be the best approach. "If all our biological communities are going to change anyway, why should we not think about including within those biological communities — even if it requires us to intervene — some of those species which are truly endangered?" asks Thomas. He says some may not think this is very natural. But, then neither is current climate change, he points out.

  • "Assisted Migration: What It Means to Nursery Managers and Tree Planters" is an excellent short introduction intended for landscapers and their clients, urging that planting for climate change become integral to the profession.

    ABOVE: The authors (Williams and Dumroese) distinguish 3 types of climate assistance: (1) Assisted population migration, (2) Assisted range expansion, and (3) Assisted species migration. (Florida Torreya is the illustrated example of type 3.)

  • October 2014 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / VIDEO: 2014 report of Torreya project at Secrest Arboretum, OHIO
        Fred Bess of Cleveland Ohio is the Torreya Guardians liaison collaborating with Ohio State University's Secrest Arboretum to encourage and foster the planting of a Torreya taxifolia grove on their grounds. In this 10-minute video, recorded by Connie Barlow during a site visit in September, you will see the substantial progress in that effort.

    Note: The photo at left shows the potted seedlings (grown from seeds harvested autumn 2011 by Torreya Guardians) that will eventually be planted out on the arboretum grounds.

    For more information, visit the new webpage that will henceforth chronicle all progress reports on the Secrest Torreya Project.

  • October 2014 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / VIDEO: 2014 report of Torreya project Cleveland, OHIO
        Although Torreya taxifolia seeds were planted in 2014 by Torreya Guardians in Michigan (Connie Barlow) and New Hampshire (Daein Ballard), the northernmost locale with above-ground seedlings/saplings is at the home of Fred Bess in Parma (OHIO) near Cleveland. In this 9-minute video, recorded by Connie Barlow during a site visit in September, you will see (a) how well Fred's 5 seedlings/saplings survived the -17F degree "polar vortex" of the previous winter, and (b) how vulnerable the young trees are to overpopulated buck deer looking for suitable size and texture plants to scrape the velvet off their antlers.

    Importantly, Fred reports that sapling protection is needed only during the antler season, as even overpopulated deer accustomed to eating domestic plants that wild deer would shun perform no more than a nibble of a taste test on this unfamiliar species before determining it is not a food source.

  • October 2014 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / Put an end to "invasive species" fear-mongering re Torreya Guardians assisted migration efforts
    October 11 I posted a comment on the Climate Central website criticizing how the journalist depicted concerns about "assisted migration". Because Climate Central is respected for its scientific accuracy, I felt it important to post a comment on the September 7 article by Greg Breining, titled "Time for Trees to Pack Their Trunks?". My comment in full is below:
    It is time for journalists and scientists to refrain from using inappropriate scare tactics that hinder forward movement in responsible experimentation with "assisted migration." This article states, "Think carp and kudzu, two species intentionally introduced far outside their native range to become despised invaders." Surely you know that there is a huge distinction between introducing a species that is native to a different continent (as in carp and kudzu) v. helping a native species move north along the geographic route it has used for millions of years whenever climate has shifted — albeit at a far slower pace in by-gone times.
         I am the founder of Torreya Guardians, and our volunteer work and experimentation is vital in that we expressly set out to learn just how far north this highly endangered "Florida" conifer tree can live (and reproduce) in today's climate. Because it was "left behind" in its peak glacial refuge 10,000 years ago (likely, for lack of an animal that could disperse its large seed across the sand flats of southern Georgia), nobody knows how far north it can thrive. Sadly, it will become increasingly necessary for us two-legged intentional seed dispersers to experiment with even our common trees (especially the oaks) who depend on 4-legged animal dispersers (squirrels) — as only we can move species north at a fast enough pace.
         What have we discovered thus far? Crucially, one Torreya Guardian has waist-high young Torreya trees on his property in NE Ohio — and he reports that, without any artificial warmth (blanket or wind-resistant plastic), these trees not only survived the -17F degree "polar vortex" of last winter but they have put on superb new growth this past summer. Last month I planted 30 Torreya seeds in the mitten of Michigan: to learn not only whether they can survive that climate regime but also whether they can germinate directly from the forest soils and whether planting those seeds during a year of supreme oak masting (lots of acorns!) means that the squirrels will not be driven to find and dig up the torreya seeds.
         There is so much to learn! And there is so much enthusiasm and avocational expertise among citizen-naturalists who love plants, and who are happy to work for free. It is a shame that the paid professionals are failing to do and learn at least as much as we are. Visit the TorreyaGuardians.org website and click on "What We Are Learning".

  • September 2014 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / Field Testing of Torreya extends to Michigan
        Connie Barlow planted 30 seeds from the autumn 2013 harvest into a private regrowth forest near Ludington Michigan in September 2014. Halsey Barlow had already planted 40 seeds in the spring of 2014 into her father's regrowth forest near Alpena Michigan.

    Thus, a new page of "assisted migration in MICHIGAN has been added to the website.

    Go directly to the 30-minute video of the Ludington seed planting experiment.

  • September 2014 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / Torreya taxifolia featured in Landscape Architecture Magazine

        A September 2014 4-page article, "Have Tree, Will Travel" is a superb way to grasp the paleoecological foundation that undergirds projects for which poleward "assisted migration" on the continent of origin is becoming standard practice in this century of rapid climate change. The author, park planner Kevan Williams, weaves the science and policy viewpoints into three sequential narratives:
        (1) a futile recent Nature Conservancy project of attempting to "rewild" a native camellia, Franklinia alatamaha, southward to its "native" (actually, peak-glacial) habitat in southern Georgia from its cultivated (rescue) domain near Philadelphia.
        (2) the ongoing (and thus far successful) attempt by citizen naturalists to work around the Endangered Species Act and thus on their own initiative move a critically endangered Florida conifer, Torreya taxifolia (photo left), from its peak glacial refuge in northern Florida into the southern Appalachians and points farther north.
        (3) the disaster looming large for even common forest trees, as climate shifts rapidly, along with the role that massive projects of assisted migration, on the one hand, and urban forest landscaping, on the other, could play in helping species move north.

  • September 2014 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / Correspondence bt our citizen's group and officials in charge of Endangered Species management plan for Torreya taxifolia
    NOTE: Connie Barlow is posting this correspondence for historical reference:

    In early September I received an email from Torreya Guardian Jeff Morris, who offered to collect seeds this fall from the lone mature Torreya taxifolia tree growing (on private property) in Clinton NC. I responded that seed collection would be very helpful, but we also need to consider that a lone individual that produces seeds is doing so by self-pollination (thus, genetic inbreeding).
        I wrote a lengthy response to Jeff and cc'd Vivian Negron-Ortiz, who is the USF&WS staff person in charge of the Endangered Species Management Plan for Torreya taxifolia. I also cc'd Mark Schwartz, a conservation biologist who has published in opposition to assisted migration for Torreya taxifolia and who is the lead author of a multi-author paper on the challenges of assisted migration. Apparently, inbreeding is very unhealthy for conifers. I wrote:

    "Alas, while Atlanta Botanical Garden has as much genetic variety in their Torreya plants as Florida had to offer, they cannot just hand potted seedlings over to us, owing to restrictions in the official Endangered Species management plan. I have recently hypothesized that the hesitancy for the USF&WS in charge of that plan to add assisted migration into its official options over many years probably reflects, at least in part, that to actually conduct an official assisted migration would have politically powerful climate deniers up in arms because it would be affirming that climate change is real in the USA, and already has endangered a native tree. Reflect on how the USF&WS recently backtracked on certifying the wolverine as an officially endangered species, because the reports advocating that primarily listed reduced snow pack and timing owing to climate change as the biggest cause upcoming. Thus it became a political problem, at least for the Congress people from those NW states. Maybe I am wrong on that, but it is hard to understand why we Torreya Guardians are still left to scramble to find adequate genetic diversity.

    As some of you know, the climate hazards for USA trees are now far beyond our beloved Torreya taxifolia. The IPCC Working Group II this last spring issued a report that included a diagram that shows that of all life forms, trees are most threatened by climate change owing to their being the slowest to be able to shift ranges (slow generation times + limited seed distribution for trees dependent on squirrels).

    I am now sounding the alarm for all non-wind-dispersed trees in the USA. The fifth episode in my "Climate, Trees, and Legacy" videoblog series is the best one to watch to see this. It was filmed before a live audience in Durango CO in June, and you will hear people audibly shocked when I show them maps of how the USFS itself projects tree habitable zones to shift this century. (I will be recording more videos beginning in November.) Go to this overall webpage to see links and topics for all 5 episodes, and scroll down to click on episode 5: "Rocky Mountain Trees in Climate Peril."

    I received these responses to the above email:
    From MARK SCHWARTZ: "Just a note: Florida Torreya is monoecious. Hence, separate male and female plants. Thus, I don't see how there could be selfing seeds produced, unless it is facultatively dioecious. I have spoken to a number of USFWS about assisted migration and the hesitancy on the part of the agency is, as I see it, not about climate politics or climate deniers. In fact experimental populations have been established outside historic ranges, albeit not necessarily based on a climate futures model. However, the TG rewilding is not based on that either, as best I can tell.
         My sense is that it is about limited capacity and drivers of extinction risk. The application of the ESA has been focused on extinction prevention, and not on restoring ecological relevant populations. Hence, Torreya would not be a priority as it is not high on the list of species likely to go extinct soon."

    From VIVIAN NEGRON-ORTIZ: "As Mark pointed out, Florida torreya is comprised of male and female plants. So selfing is not an option. Potentially, if male plants are not available, asexual reproduction could be an alternative; however this statement has to be scientifically confirmed (other alternatives are also plausible).
         The goal of the ESA is to 'bring a listed species to the point at which it is no longer likely to become in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range'. So care/guidelines is/are needed to introduce species outside their historic range. Research specifically focused on assisted migration is necessary to help inform the debate on the concept of assisted migration."

    CONNIE BARLOW'S note to readers: October 2013, A.J. Bullard worked with Connie Barlow to photo-document Bullard's long-held observations that single T. taxifolia individuals do sometimes produce both male and female reproductive structures. See here captioned photos of male and female cones on the same plant growing on Bullard's property in North Carolina. ADDENDUM: On 30 September, Connie sent an email to Schwartz and Negron-Ortiz requesting them to view the photo-documentation of male-and-female reproductive structures on the same individual. Both did and responded positively to the photo-documentation. Schwartz added, "I did hear from someone once that they will switch from male to female as they mature. If so, then it makes sense that there may be a transitional period."
        Also, the IUCN Redlist (updated in 2011) lists Torreya taxifolia as "critically endangered", which is the highest level of risk prior to becoming "extinct in the wild."

  • September 2014 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / Teaching kids about assisted migration to help trees adapt to climate change
    AUDIO of a 6-minute Story for All Ages that Connie delivered at the Sunday morning service of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Indianapolis in September 2014. Here she uses leaves of a tuliptree and nuts of a walnut tree she collected that morning on the church grounds to (a) help the kids identify and enjoy these trees and (b) gently introduce them to the idea that their generation will need to help such trees move north in tandem with a changing climate.

  • August 2014 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / Need to learn which conifers harbor symbiotic root fungi helpful for Torreya
    Torreya Guardian Jeff Morris (with plants in Spencer NC) noticed last fall that the T. taxifolia seedlings Connie had dug up from beneath the mature T. taxifolia tree in Clinton NC and had given to him had mychorrizal root fungal hyphae obvious on it. Apparently, the thriving parent tree had inoculated the seedling with that vital soil inhabitant. Jeff wrote in an email:
    "When I was transplanting the six seedlings that Connie gave me on November 3rd, I made an observation of the Torreya taxifolia that I had not paid attention to before: mycorrhizal root nodules, similar to those I have seen on Cephalotaxus and Podocarpus seedlings in the past. Mycorrhizal root nodules work to facilitate a plant-fungal symbiotic interaction that is vital to the health of the tree. It could also be useful in assisted migration of T. taxifolia, as we seek answers to the 'ideal' place to plant the seedlings, so that they have the best advantages available to gain necessary nutrients from the soil and atmosphere, which is about 80% nitrogen, but is not readily absorbed in usable form by trees without bacterial or mycorrhizal chemical reactions. This is another reason that I believe planting the T. taxifolia between the sprawling roots beside a Pinaceae stump will lead to greater survival of northern winters in climates colder than a zone 6."
    Jeff's observation led us on a new track of trying to (a) find out what the species of symbiotic root fungus is for T. taxifolia, (b) where to obtain inoculant of that to add to our existing (and future) plantings, and (c) which other (ideally, common) species of conifer associates with that same symbiont. If we could determine which conifers harbor that same endo or ecto mychorrizal fungi, we could then dig up soil from there and add to our Torreya plantings and also try to place our future seed plantings near those conifer species (but not overshadowed by them).
        The USF&WS Endangered Species Recovery program for T. taxifolia has published results on identifying "the soilborne pathogens" that have devastated the original Florida population since the 1960s. In an email to Connie Barlow dated 24 May 2014, USF&WS staffer in charge of Torreya, Vivian Negron-Ortiz, wrote: "A mycorrhizal study was funded a few years ago. We have the results, but the study has not been published."
        Right now we are wondering whether White Pine may harbor helpful symbionts. Jeff Morris thinks that planting Torreya near Pinaceae conifers may be helpful. Connie then reported that the two Torreya specimens growing far faster than the rest at Corneille Bryan Native Garden in Junaluska NC are both near a young White Pine. Buford Pruitt (who has Torreyas planted in his yard at Brevard NC) then noted that "My largest in-ground torrey was adjacent to white pines and was flourishing. I transplanted it a few weeks ago (further away from pines) because a large white pine needs to be timbered and would have crushed the torrey coming down. Some of my other torreys are planted close to white pines."
        Torreya Guardian Daein Ballard in Mason, New Hampshire, received 40 seeds from us from the Fall 2014 harvests. He is actively interested in experimentally determining compatible fungal symbionts on his property, where he has "two hemlock and one white pine clustered together. In fact the soil I mixed into the pots I'm germinating the Torreya seeds in is from that spot." His hemlock trees are still alive, even though woolly adelgid has been spotted nearby. Daein reports:
    "Last spring I found infested trees less than a mile from my property. I don't know if the town is spraying, but not too long ago I went back and observed these hemlocks again and they no longer seemed to be infested with adelgid. One of the hemlocks I found infested was one of my favorite huge hemlocks, an impressive tree (6+ feet around, 100+ feet high) too. No sign of infestation at the moment. Despite the proximity of the infested trees to my property I haven't found any here. Though I have found massive infestations of pine bark adelgid on young white pines on my property. Could be a sign of increased environmental stress on the white pines. I don't know, but even the most inflicted little saplings seemed to survive the most horrible infestations with ease. White pines are like weeds here so it'd take a lot to put even a small dent in their population.
        All in all I think the hard New England winters may be holding the hemlock adelgids in check in my area. Especially since my area has supposedly been infested for years, yet the little guys can't seem to keep hold on any particular tree for more than a season. If global warming progresses, I'm sure the hemlock adelgids will eventually get the best of the trees."

  • August 2014 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / Torreya Guardians work highlighted in an article about whether endangered species should be "translocated" as climate changes
    Torreya Guardian Lee Barnes was interviewed for an article that appeared in the 15 August 2014 online issue of Climate Wire. Lee's comments were followed by those of a U.K. biology professor who advocates that species threatened by climate change should be regarded as "innocent until proven guilty" re concern about whether they might become "invasive" in the recipient ecosystem. Because "guilty until proven innocent" has been the unexamined norm, official policy has yet to endorse assisted migration experiments for endangered species, including the highly endangered Florida Torreya. Click to read the article: "Endangered Species: Will it be extinction or translocation as impacts of climate change increase?"

  • May 2014 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / We need to ensure our assisted-migration plantings attract the proper symbiotic fungi on their roots (mycorrhizae)
    We need to learn more about how to encourage mycorrhizal fungi to attach to the roots of any seeds or seedlings we plant in the future. Jeff Morris reported seeing mycorrhizal fungi on the roots of Torreya seedlings that I collected beneath a mature T. taxifolia tree in Clinton NC last fall, and ever since I have been reading about the importance of encouraging such fungi to work with our plantings. (Read about mycorrhizal symbionts and Jeff's ideas on our propagation page.) Someone should visit the Clinton NC tree, dig up more seedlings, and study the mycelium on their roots (the seedlings easily gain fungal symbionts because they sprout directly beneath the mother tree). Also, someone should carefully examine a bit of root from samples of our plantings in Waynesville and Junaluska NC.
        Hypothesis to test: Do the two tallest seedlings from our 2008 plantings in NC (both at Corneille Bryan Native Garden) have the best developed symbiotic fungi on their roots? Both are very near a white pine — so we need to test whether planting Torreya near a living conifer (and of what species?) is the best way to ensure that seeds and seedlings attract the ideal fungal partners.

  • May 2014 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / Brewer's Spruce in coastal Oregon is superb "relict-species" analogue to Torreya taxifolia
    On the annotated links page, I have excerpted a crucial forestry paper published in 2012 in American Journal of Botany. Everyone involved with planning and management of Torreya taxifolia in Florida and points north should read these excerpts, which can be found by visiting the Forestry section of the assisted migration links page, then scrolling down to the "PALEOECOLOGICAL SECTION" and looking for the "Relict Species" section with Brewer's Spruce (coastal Oregon) as the focal species. Better yet, read the entire paper, which is available for free online viewing.

  • May 2014 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / U.S. Foresters see great need for assisted migration of even common forest trees of the Rocky Mountains
    This month I have been reading up on a plethora of recent articles published by U.S. Forest Service researchers or academic forestry professionals. The projected need for assisted migration (owing to rapid climate change) of even common forest trees of the Rocky Mountains is astounding. Although controversy still exists on this issue among conservation biologists, U.S. foresters now join Canadian forestry professionals in focusing on what, how, and when to do it — rather than continuing the academic debate. View the assisted migration online links webs page of scholarly and news articles (which I keep updating).

  • April 2014 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / SUNY website, "MOVE IT?", invites knowledgeable people to fill out a decision tree to assess suitability for assisted migration of species of interest
    EXCERPT: Move It? is an online questionnaire that scores the suitability of user-defined species (candidate taxa) for assisted colonization. Questions are divided into three main categories, following Hoegh-Guldberg et al. (2008): (1) need for assisted colonization, (2) technical feasibility of assisted colonization, and (3) biological/ socioeconomical costs versus benefits of assisted colonization.
         Move It? is also a growing database of user-submitted scores, which can then be used to compare candidate taxa and guide decisions about the use of assisted colonization in practice. Although primarily developed in the context of climate change, Move It? can be used to evaluate any proposal to translocate organisms outside their current range. Take the Survey!.

    NOTE: Lee Barnes and Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardians, have both completed the Move It? survey for Torreya taxifolia. Connie engaged in an e-conversation with Move It? staffer Andrew Neil Stillman, which included discussion about terminology, with Connie requesting that "assisted migration" rather than "assisted colonization" be the term of use. See that portion of discussion here.

  • April 2014 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / IPCC "Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability" lists trees as most in need of "assisted species migration"
    On the Assisted Migration annotated papers page of this website, I excerpted the "assisted species migration" figure and paragraph included in the 44-page summary of the IPCC multi-volume report. Notably, the report points to trees as being the most vulnerable of all life forms — and thus the most in need of human assistance to keep pace with climate zone changes. Note: In May I uploaded to youtube a 45-minute presentation I delivered in Prescott, AZ, in which the IPCC diagram that shows how vulnerable trees are to lagging behind latitudinal climate shifts was a central feature. "Forest Trees in Climate Peril" (Connie Barlow 2014).

  • January 2014 / by Fred Bess, Torreya Guardian in Ohio / January 2013 Ohio Torreyas meet -15 F
    "During the 'polar vortex' here in OHIO I registered -15 F in my back yard. It looks as though the Torreyas are ok, but spring will tell for certain. Another round of cold is due over the next few days. My (contained) bamboo and at least one of my Giant Sequoia cultivars were severely damaged or killed."

    Editor's note: Bill Alexander, forest historian at the Biltmore Estate reported that in the winter of 1985 all Torreya specimens survived unharmed an episode of unusual cold; temperatures plunged to minus 16 degrees F.

  • January 2014 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / New instructions on protecting Torreya from DEER
    I posted a new box of instructions on the "Propagation" page to offer advice on when and where to protect young Torreya trees from deer damage (bucks may use young trees to scrape velvet off of antlers). Those instructions include photographs.

  • January 2014 / by Christina Larson, Torreya Guardian / 2013 photos of progress of 4 T. taxifolia trees in Florida panhandle
    The four trees are still doing very well, thanks to liming, in Shoal Sanctuary (Moss Landing, Florida)

  • January 2014 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / New VIDEO SERIES 2014: "Climate, Trees, and Legacy"
        On January 4, I posted a new 42-minute videoblog on youtube that extends our learnings and experience within Torreya Guardians to potentially apply to private landowners throughout the USA who want to begin experimenting on their own lands with helping even common tree species (especially large-seeded species dependent on squirrels for range extension) to move northward in anticipation of climate change — climate change that may push habitable ranges northward faster than the trees can "move" on their own. I offer a name for that new movement: Leaf a Legacy.

    Access: "Climate, Trees, and Legacy VIDEOSERIES".

    Episode titles: 01 - Introduction; 02 - Lessons of Torrey Pine; 03 - Lessons of Joshua Tree; 04 - Lessons of Arizona Cypress; 05 - Rocky Mountain Trees in Climate Peril

  • December 2013 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / Posting of historic early communications about assisted migration of T. taxifolia
    While I was sorting through old computer files today, I noticed I still could locate ancient email correspondence — including early communications that led to the founding of Torreya Guardians. I copied one long and pivotal March 2004 email and posted it here in pdf: 10 Discussion Points (2004). Point 9 remarkably anticipates a key point of discussion today:
    9. IS IT POSSIBLE TO DISCUSS T. TAX AND ADVOCATE "ASSISTED MIGRATION" OF THIS ONE SPECIES WITHOUT TALKING ABOUT THE POSSIBLE NEED FOR WHOLESCALE MOVEMENT, BY HUMANS, OF FOREST ECOSYSTEMS AS THE CLIMATE RAMPS UP? My discussion last week, for several hours, with Hazel and Paul DELCOURT at their office in Knoxville was intellectually exhilarating, but emotionally depressing. I walked in there just wanting to help rewild Torreya, using what I like to call "deep-time eyes." Alas! Hazel, whose 2002 book, "Forests In Peril: Tracking Deciduous Trees from Ice-Age Refuges into the Greenhouse World" (which draws upon her 3 decades of work on this topic), opened my eyes to the scale and speed of forest upset that global warming is and will increasingly cause. Yikes! Wildlands corridors may be fine for mobile animals, but trees simply cannot move fast enough, and the generation times for trees are much longer than are those for animals. Already, HAZEL discerns that the Evergreen Magnolia-Beech climax forest, which used to be widespread south of the Appalachians yet barely exists anymore, would do quite well in the southern Appalachians right now. Climate warming is already that advanced. (Significantly, I was in such a forest in February when I was viewing the diseased T. tax on the eastern slope of the Apalachicola River.) See Hazel R. Delcourt, 1977, "Presettlement Magnolia-Beech Climax of the Gulf Coastal Plain: Quantitative Evidence from the Apalachicola River Bluffs, North-Central Florida," Ecology 58: 1085-1093.

    Note: I also just posted in pdf the email correspondence I had with University of Washington paleobotanist Estella Leopold (who is the youngest child of Aldo Leopold). She describes new fossil evidence of genus Torreya in eastern Washington state (11 mya). That correspondence can be accessed here in PDF.

  • December 2013 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / 1905 Report posits T. taxifolia as a "northern mesophytic" tree
    I modified the "About Torreya taxifolia" webpage to add a new section that excerpts a 1905 Botanical Gazette article that is the first recorded instance of the hypothesis that Florida's Torreya tree actually "is a northern plant of the most pronounced mesophytic tendencies, and to be associated with such forms as the beech-maple-hemlock forms of our northern woods." I also included in that new section a photo and caption of the 2013 documentation (by AJ Bullard) that male and female cones appear on the same specimen.

  • December 2013 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian / European peak-glacial plant refuge equated to Apalachicola
    I was searching online for T. taxifolia and came upon a paragraph in the March 1989 newsletter of JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh NC (which has a lot of T. taxifolia): "A Rhododendron ponticum was introduced to England from Turkey over 200 years ago — and is becoming perhaps the most invasive and damaging of weeds in the country today. . . An interesting paradox for those who would leap on this with an attack on 'the problems of introduced exotic species' is that studies show the species originally came from the British Isles, was forced south to Turkey during the glacial age, where it was left as a remnant population (much like the Taxus floridans, Rhododendron chapmannii, Torreya taxifolia, Magnolia ashei, etc. in Florida today)."

  • November 2013 / by Fred Bess, Torreya Guardian in Ohio/ Buck antler-rubbing damage to Torreya this fall.
    Editor's note: Fred informed us that one of his young Torreya trees that he planted near Cleveland Ohio sustained damage from a buck rubbing antlers on it. Although Torreya probably is safeguarded against deer eating it (too prickly), sapling stage Torreyas are very vulnerable in places where deer are over-populated. Connie Barlow saw deer-scraping damage on Torreya saplings in Torreya State Park in Florida.

  • November 2013 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ 75-minute VIDEOBLOG on Torreya Guardians
    In early November I recorded, illustrated, and posted on my Youtube channel a 75-minute VIDEOBLOG: "Helping Plants Move North in Anthropocene Climate", which includes a lot of discussion and photos of the activities summarized in the next entry down, along with a survey of Torreya Guardians actions since the beginning. Click the "Show more" link beneath the caption to read a detailed hotlinked table of contents (so you can skip to whichever topics interest you).

  • November 2013 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ Seeds harvested from Clinton and Mt. Olive NC Torreyas, and 2 new NC landowners recruited to plant seeds/seedlings on their forested properties.
    In late October I was able to accomplish in North Carolina:

  • planted (from the 2013 harvest by Jack Johnston) 43 seeds at the Waynesville (Evans) site, using natural forms of squirrel protection: under logs or overlain by rocks or thatched branches.

  • Gave 43 seeds to Janet Manning, head gardener at the Junaluska site where we planted seedlings in 2008: Corneille Bryan Native Garden.

  • Harvested 102 seeds from the Clinton NC tree and 41 seeds from A.J. Bullard's trees in Mt. Olive NC; see a photo-essay of those activities.

  • Met Torreya Guardian Jeff Morris of Spencer NC and exchanged seeds/seedlings with him to increase the genetic diversity of plantings within NC. I gave him all 6 of the seedlings I collected beneath the Clinton tree, 12 of the 102 seeds I collected in Clinton, 12 of the 41 seeds I collected in Mt. Olive, and 21 seeds from the primary harvest of Torreya Guardians (provided by Jack Johnston). In exchange, Jeff gave me 4 potted seedlings he had grown from the 20ll Torreya Guardian seed harvest and 28 seeds he had harvested early October from his own trees.

  • Recruited a new landowner of forested property in Greensboro NC (Nelson and Elaine Stover), and gave them 15 seeds from Mt. Olive and 15 seeds from our main harvest. They will plant all 30 directly into their forest, using the natural squirrel-protection methods I suggested to them (under logs, overlain by thatched branches or rocks).

  • Recruited a new landowner in Cullowhee NC (our first in the Tuckasegee watershed), who received the 4 seedlings Jeff gave me, plus 20 seeds from the Clinton NC tree. Jim Thomson planted the 4 seedlings right away and sent me photos, which appear in a photo-essay page dedicated to the Cullowhee site.

  • Recruited my brother, Bill Barlow, to test the viability of Torreya seed germination and possible establishment in Michigan. This site constitutes a new northern-most location: Midland (for germination) and Farwell (120 acres of forest, with some boreal species). Our previous northern outpost was the Cleveland Ohio area, where the trees are still doing well. I sent Bill 2 seeds from Mt. Olive, 2 seeds from Clinton, and 34 seeds from the main Torreya Guardians 2013 planting.

  • 2 possible Arboretums to begin growing Torreya: (1) Fred Bess, Torreya Guardian in Parma (Cleveland area) Ohio, recruited nearby Holden Arboretum (Kirtland Ohio). (2) I made a site-visit to Lovett Pinetum (Strafford Missouri), and its founder Robert Lovett took me on a tour, including the two naturally forested areas he hopes to plant Torreya taxifolia in. Although his land is west of the Mississippi River, it is still a long way from California, so there is no risk of our eastern North America species interbreeding with the California species. I need to follow through with trying to get the Atlanta Botanical Garden to communicate with both arboretums (also, Duke Gardens in Durham NC, as Nov 12 email from Lee Barnes said they were interested in seeds/seedlings), as I understand that ABG may be willing to send seedlings (official ESA management plan) to bona fide nonprofit arboretums for off-site species protection. While "assisted migration" is not officially sanctioned in the ESA management plan for Torreya taxifolia, surely these arboretums could helpfully test these northern climates for possible future viability of the species if and when assisted migration is eventually undertaken. See "Plan Seeks 'Chaperones' for Threatened Species", which is a news report on a talk that Adam Smith (ecologist at Missouri Botanical Garden) presented at the Ecological Society of America meeting, August 2013 (the report is by Virginia Gewin, published in Nature 09 August 2013).

  • October 2013 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ 2013 paper by Shirey et al. confirms legality of Torreya Guardians actions in assisted migration
    In 2008 I secured email confirmation that our planned "assisted migration" action in North Carolina would be legal (email communication with Stan Simpkins, then-overseer of the Endangered Species Act management plan for Torreya taxifolia). Nonetheless, in subsequent years, bloggers sometimes labelled our actions as "eco-terrorism" — charging us with endangering the southern Appalachians with a possibly "invasive" species. That is why the publication in Conservation Letters in Sept/Oct 2013 of a paper by Patrick D. Shirey et al. is a significant step for legitimizing our work. It is also crucial for alerting conservation biologists to the looming difficulties of effectively managing endangered species — not only for species preservation but also increasingly to accommodate climate change. The paper is "Commercial trade of federally listed threatened and endangered plants in the United States". Because this paper is so important, I excerpted key passages pertaining to assisted migration and especially the Torreya Guardians example discussed.

  • July 2013 / by Connie Barlow / Journal of Forestry Review Article reveals historical and management reasons why COMMERCIAL AND PUBLIC FORESTERS ACCEPT "ASSISTED MIGRATION" as an adaptation strategy for climate change far more readily than do conservation biologists working with endangered species and ecological restoration.
    The Review Article was published in the July 2013 issue of the Journal of Forestry. "Preparing for Climate Change: Forestry and Assisted Migration", by M. I Williams and R.K. Dumroese. This should be essential reading for all those whose climate adaptation concerns pertain to endangered plants, restoration ecology in natural areas, and invasive species management, because it shows that resource managers of populous plant species have been engaged in forms of assisted migration for decades. For example, "In the United States, movement has been practiced for decades in the southeast with southern pines (Pinus spp.), for which seed sources are moved one seed zone north to increase growth." (p. 289)
    .
  • July 2013 / by Connie Barlow / Three assisted migration VIDEOS now linked from this website

    I just linked from this website my 2-minute 2004 VIDEO: "Assisted Migration of Plants and Animals in a Changing Climate". I also linked two new videos on that topic by legal scholar Alejandro Camacho: 2011: Redefining Nature through Assisted Migration (21 minutes) and 2012: Why Federal Climate Change Legislation Shouldn't Stop States from Innovating in Adaptation Efforts (29 minutes)

  • July 2013 / by Connie Barlow / Torreya Guardian book reviews of Forests in Peril by H. Delcourt

    End of this month I'll be taking Al Gore's Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training in Chicago. So I've been reflecting on how I came to see ongoing climate change as a threat to America's eastern deciduous forest — not just to the endangered conifer our group supports (Torreya taxifolia). Certainly, the forest fires in Yellowstone National Park in 1988 were a big wake-up (especially since I had been an Earthwatch volunteer in Yellowstone for geological fieldwork in 1987 and had worked there the summer of 1970, too). But reading Hazel Delcourt's 2002 book, Forests in Peril: Tracking Deciduous Trees from Ice-Age Refuges into the Greenhouse World, was another big push.
        I met with Hazel Delcourt in her office at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, March 15, 2004. Soon after, I created this website to serve as the communications center for a loose organization of "Torreya Guardians" (original participants and other communicators are listed on this page.) Today, I just added to this website a pdf of the 2 reviews of Hazel Delcourt's book posted on Amazon by Torreya Guardians. The reviews are by myself and Russ Regnery. You can also access an earlier review I wrote of Forests in Peril, published in the Winter 2004 issue of Wild Earth magazine.

  • May 2013 / by Connie Barlow / Results of SPRING 2013 field assessment of North Carolina rewilded Torreyas

    Connie Barlow led field assessment work on April 23 and 25 of the seedlings we had "rewilded" in 2008 to Waynesville and Junaluska mountainous habitat in North Carolina. Lee Barnes, Michael Dowd, Sara Evans, Janet Manning, and Jane Stoffer also helped with the fieldwork. Our findings were three-fold: (1) Corneille Bryan Native Garden plants are thriving; (2) Mixed survival rates at Evans property; and (3) leaf bud counts formed the basis of a new quantitative data format, on which we invite others to pose interpretations and recommendations. The 2013 data in table format can be viewed on the "learnings" page of this website.

  • May 2013 / by Connie Barlow / Assisted Migration Debate Takes a Sharp Turn in May 2013
    On May 8, CO2 in the atmosphere reached 400 ppm for the first time in human history. On May 9, Science journal published a stunning analysis of Siberian lake-sediment data that offers irrefutable evidence that a 400 ppm atmosphere (when it equilibrates air and ocean conditions) will produce an ice-free Arctic. Henceforth, responsible discourse about assisted migration will no longer question should it be undertaken, but rather when, how, and by whom. Below are the key links to the May 9 paper, beginning with the paper's title and abstract page.
  • "Pliocene Warmth, Polar Amplification, and Stepped Pleistocene Cooling Recorded in NE Arctic Russia" by Julie Brigham-Grette and 15 international coauthors, in Science (9 May 2013).

  • "The Arctic was once warmer, covered by trees": Pliocene epoch featured greenhouse gas levels similar to today's but with higher average temperatures", reported by Erin Wayman in Science News, 9 May 2013.

  • "Climate Sensitivity Stunner: Last Time CO2 Levels Hit 400 Parts Per Million The Arctic Was 14 degrees F Warmer!", blogpost by Joe Romm, 12 May 2013

  • March 2013 / by Connie Barlow / Report on Joshua Tree in CA and NV and Lodgepole Pine used to reforest vast Alaska forest burns support assisted migration advocacy for Torreya taxifolia

    I spent the morning reading the 2012, 80-page pdf multi-agency (USA federal, state, and tribal) joint report, National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy. It's purpose: "to inspire and enable natural resource administrators, elected officials, and other decision makers to take action to help the nations valuable natural resources and people that depend on them adapt to a changing climate." Clearly, climate-change activists are well past the hurdle of fearing that talking about adapting to future climate change will lessen public concern about the need to move forward powerfully with actions to mitigate climate change. I thus view this report as an indication that perhaps Torreya Guardians will soon be appreciated for the forward-looking conservation work we have been doing, rather than criticized. Thanks to the report, I learned about two recent developments that, in my view, strongly support the assisted migration action we have already taken for the highly endangered eastern NA species of genus Torreya. I plan to bring those two developments to the attention of the USF&WS staff person in charge of the ESA mgmt plan for our species. The two developments are:

  • JOSHUA TREE: "Past and ongoing shifts in Joshua tree distribution support future modeled range contraction" by Kenneth L. Cole et al., Ecological Applications, 2011. - The authors report that, owing to extinction of its seed disperser (Shasta Ground Sloth), the tree-form tall yucca called Joshua Tree will not only disappear from its namesake national park in California as climate warms, but it will need help in migrating northward into more suitable habitat — even beyond Nevada and into southern Utah.

  • NON-NATIVE LODGEPOLE PINE PLANTED ON KENAI PENINSULA (ALASKA) TO REPLACE NATIVE SPRUCE DEVASTATION BY CLIMATE-CAUSED SPRUCE BEETLE ERUPTION: Although not called "assisted migration", this intentional use of a more warm-adapted tree species (native to the dry northern Rocky Mountains, occurring naturally at lower elevations to the spruce zones on mountain slopes) is a clear example of foresters drawing upon a more southerly species native to the continent to replace forest dominants that are no longer viable, given the climate shifts already impacting Alaska. See: "Alaska: Across the Wildest State, Climate Change Threatens Many Species and Habitats", USF&WS June 2011.
  • February 2013 / by Connie Barlow / Unique fungal pathogen identified as cause of Torreya canker

    The current issue of the journal Mycologia reports a newly identified and named pathogen of Torreya: Fusarium torreyae. ABSTRACT: During a survey for pathogens of Florida torreya (Torreya taxifolia) conducted in 2009, a novel Fusarium species was isolated from cankers affecting this critically endangered conifer whose current range is restricted to northern Florida and southwestern Georgia. Published multilocus molecular phylogenetic analyses indicated that this pathogen represented a genealogically exclusive, phylogenetically distinct species representing one of the earliest divergences within the Gibberella clade of Fusarium. Furthermore, completion of Koch's postulates established that this novel species was the causal agent of Florida torreya canker disease. Here, we formally describe this pathogen as a new species, Fusarium torreyae.

  • January 2013 / by Connie Barlow / Barlow files comments in support of "assisted migration" as an adaptation strategy recommended within draft Climate Assessment Report
    Chapter 8, page 300 of the USA draft Climate Assessment Report includes 5 adaptation strategies for preserving ecosystem health and biodiversity. The 4th strategy is: "assisted migration to help move species and populations from current locations to those areas expected to become more suitable in the future."
         BARLOW'S SUBMITTED COMMENT: Thank you for using the original term for this adaptation method ("assisted migration") rather than alternative terms suggested later in the scholarly literature (terms include "assisted colonization" and "managed relocation"). "Assisted migration" is not only the original term (named by Brian Keel), but it is the only term that suggests assistance as part of a natural process — the process of species migration as climate changes. I am the citizen naturalist who founded Torreya Guardians, and in 2008 we helped the highly endangered conifer tree Torreya taxifolia move 600 km to the north (from the Apalachicola River of Florida panhandle, where it has not been able to reproduce since the 1960s) to Waynesville in the mountains of North Carolina. Torreya is an ancient genus, tens of millions of years old. Surely it has migrated north and south a number of times as climate has shifted. (Its pollen is indistinguishable from genera Cupressus and Taxodium, so unfortunately there is no fossil evidence in the Appalachian Mountains to prove its prior residence there).
         If you are receiving pressure to change the term from "assisted migration" to something else, please resist that pressure. The name is very important to present this adaptation strategy as a little human assistance in an otherwise very natural process. For the history and arguments on this naming concern, please see, "Assisted Migration or Assisted Colonization: What's In a Name?"
         If you are interested in learning more about the assisted migration project that we Torreya Guardians have already undertaken, visit our website: http://www.torreyaguardians.org
         We are very excited that our 2008 migration effort is proving successful, and we now have data that indicate the genus's habitat preferences in its new post-climate-change "native" habitat. Go to this page to learn more: http://www.torreyaguardians.org/learnings.html.
         One more thing: Our entire project was undertaken by citizen naturalists using our own free labor, plus a little of our own money for transportation and to purchase seedlings from a nursery. We suggest that our effort should set a good precedent for responsible citizen naturalists to undertake similar projects with little or no taxpayer assistance — other than supervisory roles played by funded scientists. To economize on funding, and to ensure that every species is given an opportunity to migrate, Americans must make use of the voluntary labor lovingly provided by experienced citizen naturalists.

  • November 2012 / by Connie Barlow / 31 science co-authors publish report on "managed relocation" of species, following 4 years of study

    A free online (technical) policy paper is essential reading for everyone involved in the assisted migration debate. Torreya Guardians work is mentioned in the report, and the lead author (Mark W. Schwartz) is himself an expert on Torreya. "Managed Relocation: Integrating the Scientific, Regulatory, and Ethical Challenges" by Mark W. Schwartz and 30 coauthors, BioScience August 2012 (12 pp in pdf)

    NOTE: Connie Barlow posted COMMENTS and RECOMMENDATIONS on this policy paper.

  • November 2012 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ "Revive and Restore" new organization and website promotes 'de-extinction'
    Thanks to our paleoecological colleague David Burney (who collaborated with one of the key Torreya Guardian founders, the late Paul S. Martin, on a classic paper, "Bring Back the Elephants") I just learned about an exciting new project: "Revive and Restore". Funded by The Long Now Foundation, top-notch geneticists, paleoecologists, and conservation biologists are coming together to share ideas, best practices, and ethical considerations about using advanced genomics to (a) recover actual DNA from the preserved bones and skins of recently extinct vertebrates, and then (b) to implant the DNA within ova of of the most closely related living species (in the way of "Dollie" the sheep cloning). Current emphases include using band-tailed pigeons as surrogate mothers for implanted Passenger Pigeon DNA, and in similar ways "bringing back" Tasmania's large carnivore, the Thylacine.

  • October 2012 / by Connie Barlow / IUCN Redbook listing of "Critically Endangered" Torreya taxifolia concludes "extinction within its native range is inevitable."
    Checking up on the current status of T. taxifolia in the global databank of endangered species (IUCN Redbook, of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature), I noticed that the 2011 update draws an alarming conclusion about its prospects for survival (and I amended the "At the Brink of Extinction" page on this website accordingly. The IUCN concludes:
    "The most significant current threat to T. taxifolia is the continued reproductive failure associated with fungal pathogens. Individuals do not reach reproductive size before being top-killed. . . . Augmentation plantings within the natural range have proved to be susceptible to infection: no naturally resistant clones have been identified to date. Population viability analyses indicate that extinction within its native range is inevitable."

  • September 2012 / by Jim Clark / Healthy grove of Torreya californica discovered in Marin County, CA
    "For years I have been running a trail at King Mountain Open Space and finally noticed a grove of Torreya californica. It is on the north-facing slope above the city of Larkspur. It is at about 400 feet elevation, adjacent to oaks and redwoods. . . ." Click for a photo-essay of this discovery.

  • August 2012 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ Dolly Ballard discovers two mature Torreyas bearing lots of seeds in Madison Florida
    In 2012 Dolly Ballard, a long-time resident and garden club member of Madison Florida, began to inventory the half-dozen mature Torreya trees on private properties in Madison, Florida. Apparently, in August 2012 she discovered 2 female Torreyas covered with lots of ripening seeds in a cemetery in Madison. Her nephew, Ben Duval, posted on YouTube a VIDEO of Dolly talking about the trees, and then (at 11:05) interviewing Park Ranger Mark Ludlow, on location in Torreya State Park, about the plight of the trees.

  • July 2012 / by Buford Pruitt, Torreya Guardian/ 2 of 10 seeds from the 2011 harvest have germinated
    "As you can read in the link, which is my blog's latest post, torreya does much better for me in NC than in FL, so NC is where I'll plant the new seedlings." Editor's note: See more details on Pruitt's work with Torreya at the North Carolina webpage and the Propagation Advice page. ADDENDUM: As of February 2013, the cumulative germination of autumn 2011 seeds has been 9 of 10; see his blogpost with photos.

  • June 2012 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ 15 Torreya seeds planted at the Waynesville rewilding site
    Following the photo-documentation during the site visit made to Waynesville (and Junaluska) in late May 2012, 15 Torreya seeds from the 2011 harvest were individually planted by Connie Barlow in favorable habitats upslope of the 21 seedlings introduced on the Evans property in 2008. Access a photo-essay of the 2012 seed planting.

  • June 2012 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ Site visit in North Carolina offers new understanding of Torreya's preferred habitat.
    In late May 2012 Connie Barlow and Lee Barnes (along with Sara Evans) made a site visit to the 21 seedlings planted in 2008 on the Evans property near Waynesville NC and the 10 seedlings planted in 2008 in Junaluska NC. Connie took many photographs and has updated both the Waynesville main page and the Junaluska main page, along with the webpages focused on each specimen. She also has posted, for the first time, an aggregate status report of WHAT HAS BEEN LEARNED to date about Torreya taxifolia habitat preferences, and what questions remain.

  • April 2012 - Torreya planting in report of April issue of Land Trust for the Little Tennessee (River)
    "On a beautiful spring morning, Boy Scouts from Troop 235 recently helped plant 31 seedlings of "Stinking Cedar" (Torreya taxifolia) at LTLT's Tessentee Bottomland Preserve. Naturalist Jack Johnston provided the seedlings, which he grew from seed at his home in northern Georgia. The Scouts, Dylan Ford and Joel Rogers, worked under the direction of Jack and LTLT's Dennis Desmond. Scout leaders Conda Bradley and Peggy Pyeatt also assisted, as did LTLT member Russ Regnery. Jack and Russ are part of a loosely organized group who call themselves the Torreya Guardians. The group is working to move this tree species to cooler climates. Known more commonly today as the Florida torreya, the conifer is poised on the brink of extinction in its tiny native habitat, the sharp-sloped ravines along a short stretch of Florida's Apalachicola River and its headwaters just across the Georgia border. To learn more about this species, visit www.torreyaguardians.org. The hope is that these planted trees will grow and produce seed for further propagation of the species."

  • February 2012 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ USDA updates its Plant Zone map; zones have migrated north
    In a move that signals the importance of assisted migration well beyond the needs of the endangered conifer, Torreya taxifolia, the U.S. Department of Agricculture has issued its long-awaited update of the northward movement of official plant zones.

  • February 2, 2012 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ Torreya Guardians in news story: "8 Wild Proposals to Relocate Endangered Species"
    Brandom Keim, reporting for Wired Science includes Torreya taxifolia and the work of Torreya Guardians in his survey of "wild" proposals for assisting endangered species by way of assisted migration and rewilding. Online access to his illustrated article is available here.

  • July 27, 2011 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ Tribute to Paul S. Martin, 1928 - 2010
    Connie Barlow just posted a webpage tribute to Paul S. Martin, the Pleistocene ecologist who co-authored with Connie the 2004 advocacy essay, "Bring Torreya Taxifolia North — Now". On this tribute page you can find links to Paul's advocacy of rewilding and his ground-breaking evoluitonary ecological work with Dan Janzen on anachronistic fruits. Connie also edited and posted audio/video recordings she made of Paul speaking about his Pleistocene ecology work in 1997 and 1999. Note: Torreya Guardians rewilding of T. taxifolia in 2008 included naming one of the 21 trees "Paul S. Martin." Unfortunately, that particular seedling died for unknown reasons in the winter of 2010. Photos of that seedling and its demise can be viewed here.

  • February 11, 2011 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ Summary arguments IN FAVOR OF ASSISTED MIGRATION for Torreya taxifolia
    Connie Barlow (with assistance from Russell Regnery) has posted a short, and definitive, summary essay that aggregates the data and develops strong scientific reasoning in favor of assisted migration for Torreya taxifolia. It is: "Paleoecology and the Assisted Migration Debate: Why a Deep-Time Perspective Is Vital".

  • January 27, 2011 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ Torreya Guardians highlighted in Nature report as prime example of "unregulated, but legal" access to U.S. endangered plants
    A groundbreaking "Comment" paper in one of the top science journals combines data analysis of 753 threatened or endangered PLANTS in the USA with policy and legal analysis of the as-yet largely unregulated trade in seeds and seedlings cultivated in private gardens and nurseries outside of the official native habitat. Coauthors Patrick Shirey and Gary Lamberti have produced a very readable and thought-provoking exposition of pros and cons of business as usual, now that climate change is motivating conservationists (individually and in groups outside of government) to consider whether the imperiled plant species that they love might benefit from, or even require, their assistance ("assisted migration") — given that governmentally agencies are still hesitant to (and in some cases, prohibited from) expanding locations for conservation programs beyond so-called native range. The work of Torreya Guardians is highlighted, including a 2010 revision in the official ESA management plan for Torreya taxifolia, directing plan managers to attempt to coordinate activities with Torreya Guardians, where possible. The authors conclude: "Although the redistribution of plant species around the world is nothing new, the ease with which people can now obtain and transfer specimens is unprecedented. This, combined with a growing interest in assisted colonization, makes it more important than ever for federal and local governments to wrest control of illegal Internet trade, develop a policy for hybrids and ensure that genetic diversity is considered when propagating plants. "Regulate Trade in Rare Plants" is 3 pages in PDF, available only for purchase online.

    NOTE: Torreya Guardian founder, Connie Barlow, posted a general response to the Shirey and Lamberti paper, and the wider issue that generated it, here in PDF: "Assisted Migration (Not Assisted Colonization) for Endangered Torreya". Barlow was quoted in the Los Angeles Times, explaining the rationale for the 2008 assisted migration of T. taxifolia from Florida to the mountains of North Carolina undertaken by Torreya Guardians, "It's not in its correct habitat right now. It should be in the Appalachians." She also strongly advocates against replacement of the original term "assisted migration" with the newer term "assisted colonization". The history of that debate over terminology can be accessed online here: "Assisted Migration or Assisted Colonization: What's in a Name?".

  • October 25, 2010 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ Photo-essay of September 22 visit to Jack Johnston's Torreya taxifolia propagation effort near Clayton, Georgia
    On September 22, 2010 Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd visited the rural home of Jack Johnston in the NE corner of Georgia, which is the southernmost expression of the Appalachian Mountains. Jack has successfully planted seedlings purchased from a nursery, and has successfully germinated seeds. He is still working on techniques to successfully root and outplant cut branchlets of the tree. Click for Photo-essay of that visit.

  • October 14, 2010 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ 86-page Yale Journal of Regulation article advocates strongly for assisted migration and covers the Torreya Guardians genesis and effort
    I have an automatic "google search" for "assisted migration" and today got notice of a paper accepted for publication that went online in May of 2010. It is the most expansive piece of professional advocacy for assisted migration yet, putting assisted migration into the context of needing to entirely rethink ecological management issues in a time of rapid climate change. Brings the need for ethical considerations (and updating of ethics) and venues for public discussion and involvement into the mix. By clicking on the download option above the paper title, you can freely download the whole pdf: "Assisted Migration: Redefining Nature and Natural Resource Law Under Climate Change", by Alejandro E. Camacho, 2010, in Yale Journal on Regulation, vol 27, pp 171-255. To find all the occurrences of Torreya Guardians, do an internal "find" for "Torreya." You will note that the author cites various pages on the Torreya Guardians website as the sources. For those who don't have time or interest to scan the whole article, start reading at page 243.

  • October 11, 2010 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ Photo-essay of September 22 visit to 2008 Torreya plantings near Highlands NC
    On September 22, 2010 Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd visited the 10 Torreya taxifolia trees that had been planted as seedlings in August 2008 by Russ Regnery on his own rural property (4,000 foot elevation) near Highlands NC. Photo-essay of that visit requires you to scroll down on the page until you see pictures.

  • October 4, 2010 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ Important papers on the ethical pros and cons of assisted migration (managed relocation)
    "Move It Or Lose It? The Ecological Ethics of Relocating Species Under Climate Change" has just been published in the journal Ecological Applications. Authors Ben Minteer and James Collins do a great job of summarizing the concerns, as well as posing this new argument in favor: "But it could also be asserted that MR [managed relocation], as an adaptationist strategy, has an important role to play in bringing the complex and intangible risks of climate change into sharper relief for citizens and policy makers; a role that could eventually pay dividends for public support for climate mitigation. Ecologists' and conservationists' concern about species survival under global warming, and subsequent proposals to move them under a program of MR, could focus critical media and public attention on observable harms that help bring the complexities of climate change science down to earth; and into living rooms."

    This paper, as with all the others, neglects the crucial distinction implied by the term "assisted migration", which has recently been superceded by the term "managed relocation." Thus far, none of the papers (you can access scores of papers online via this link) have included a deep-time perspective. That is, none have explicitly looked at the merits of such assistance from the standpoint of previous glacial/interglacial biotic dislocations. In my own experience, as soon as one adopts "deep-time eyes," it is clear that moving Torreya taxifolia seedlings hundreds of miles northward, as we Torreya Guardians have already done, is simply assisting with a natural migration pattern that has happened repeatedly in the past. Hence, my personal preference for the term "assisted migration" rather than "managed relocation." Refer to the 2004 paper by myself and Paul S. Martin for the deep-time arguments in favor of assisted migration at this peak interglacial: "Bring Torreya taxifolia North Now". A forum on terminology ("assisted migration" v. later names) is also accessible on this website.

    Overall, this paper is a must-read. The lead author is an environmental ethicist, and their advocacy in favor of radical interventions is the strongest I have encountered thus far in any professional journal. Consider his final paragraph: "If we value wild species and wish to bequeath a significant fraction of global biodiversity to future generations, radical strategies like managed relocation may well be our last best chance. Although risky, such bold efforts to preemptively move threatened species to new environments may offer the only hope to keep them from moving into museums and zoos—and haunting our ecological conscience."

  • September 30, 2010 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ All but one "rewilded" original tree healthy at Waynesville NC Site 2
    On September 23, 2010 Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd visited the 21 Torreya taxifolia trees that had been planted as seedlings July 2008. Only one tree has died thus far. It was a full-sun day, and Connie photographed each tree between 11 am and 2 pm, so the photos are great for seeing how mottled the summer sun is. You can see the captioned photos by clicking on each of the individual trees at the summary webpage.

  • September 16, 2010 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ Founding Torreya Guardian Paul S. Martin dies at the age of 82
    On September 13, 2010 Professor Paul S. Martin, emeritus professor of geosciences at the University of Arizona (Tucson), died peacefully at his home in Tucson. Paul was the co-author, with Connie Barlow, of the 2004 science advocacy article that led to the founding of Torreya Guardians. Connie posted online a eulogy of her collaboration with Paul: "Tribute to the Man Who Gave Me Deep-Time Eyes: Paul S. Martin". Josh Donlan and Harry Greene published a tribute to Paul in PLoS Biology: "Paul S. Martin (1928 - 2010): Luminary, Natural Historian, and Innovator"

  • September 10, 2010 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ USF&WS issues official Recovery Plan Update on Torreya taxifolia
    In 2010, the USF&WS initiated an update for the original (1986) recovery plan for Torreya taxifolia as an endangered species. You can access in PDF the existing official USFWS plan (updated in 2010) for managing this endangered species. Do an internal word search in that document for "translocation" to see how it addresses the new issue of assisted migration. Search for "guardians" to see the places in which the plan begins to coordinate with the work of Torreya Guardians. Much more can be accessed about the 2010 review process (the agenda and some of the pro-assisted migration comments) at the Torreya taxifolia Recovery Plan page on this website.

  • June 14, 2010 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ Comments filed on USF&WS official Recovery Plan Update on Torreya taxifolia

    In May 2010 USF&WS staff overseeing the recovery plan under the Endangered Species Act for Torreya taxifolia gathered a meeting of researchers, managers, and landowners to review their actions to date and recommend future actions for an update of the recovery plan. Though not active within the terms of the management plan, Torreya Guardians was invited to participate, so Russell Regnery and I (Connie Barlow) listened and shared our thoughts by phone call-in during the day-long conference. We felt welcome and well heard. Afterwards, I decided to follow-up with print commments of my own and to alert several scientists with expertise in this realm of the opportunity to send in comments as well. Two did so. I have added a new page to this website titled, Torreya taxifolia Recovery Plan Under the Endangered Species Act: Spring 2010 solicitation of comments on assisted migration, which contains six links, including: Comments by Connie Barlow; Comments by Prof Sarah Reichard; Comments by Josh Donlan (of Advanced Conservation Strategies).

  • May 12, 2010 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ My participation in the T. taxifolia recovery group conference yesterday and submission of recommendations

    Yesterday I participated by phone in an all-day meeting initiated and led by USF&WS staff in charge of updating the official recovery plan for Torreya taxifolia under the Endangered Species Act. Russ Regnery and I were the two Torreya Guardians who accepted the open invitation from Vivian Negron-Ortiz (at USF&WS) to voice our views and listen to the others. From what I heard, none of the other invited participants were advocating that the existing management plan be changed to include "translocation" to North Carolina or anywhere else beyond Florida and Georgia and the ex-situ locations of the potted seedlings and parent materials housed in other institutions. My sense was that, lacking a deep-time perspective, this resistance was to be expected. Thus I submitted an 8-page document with the primary intent of cataloging the arguments and giving the published citations and quotations for the USF&WS to adopt an entirely updated standard of what "native range" and "native habitat" can be re-interpreted to mean, in order to do justice to the deep-time perspective -- which, incidentally, may be vital for conservation to retain allegiance to "native" geographies even as climate shifts. Anyone can access this report in in pdf online now: "The Torreya taxifolia USF&WS Recovery Plan Process: An Opportunity to Shift to a Deep-Time Perspective of Native Habitat"

  • May 5, 2010 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ May/June issue of Audubon Magazine features Torreya Guardians assisted migration work

    "Guardian Angels" is the title of Janet Marinelli's article, published nearly two years after she accompanied a half dozen Torreya Guardians on our "rewilding" efforts in North Carolina of 31 seedling Torreyas. Here is how I summarized her report on the assisted migration links page of this website:

    In-depth exploration of "the biggest controversy in contemporary conservation science." Engagingly written for both a popular and professional audience, journalist Marinelli draws from her interviews with leading scientists, horticulturalists, and activists to present the core arguments for and against assisted migration. A site visit to an endangered plant breeding facility (the Atlanta Botanical Garden) is paired in the article with Marinelli's eye-witness description of "eco-vigilante" action, when the loose-knit citizens group Torreya Guardians intentionally planted into forested landscapes of mountainous North Carolina 31 seedlings of the highly endangered Florida Torreya — an assisted migration of some 400 miles northward of historically known native habitat.

  • April 26, 2010 / by Michael Heim, science teacher at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe High School, Hayward WI / All Torreya taxifolia planted in N. Wisconsin in 2009 died by spring 2010

    All of the Torreya taxifolia ended up dying and the parts of Taxus floridana exposed at -12F did get killed. Funny it took until now to show up. Anyway, it was a good learning experience and shows that these highly endemic spp. became that way for a reason during the Pleistocene or perhaps even before. On the other hand, maybe their northern populations were eliminated by environmental change and only the less hardy southernmost ones survived. Guess we might never know. The good news is that several Torreya nucifera came through in perfect shape! The BOX HUCKLEBERRIES also came through splendidly. My biology students collected baseline data on them last week and I'm thinking they'll put on lots of new growth & runners this summer if the drought doesn't stay too severe.
        EDITOR'S NOTE: See Mike's initial emails below of March 17, March 5, and February 12, 2010. See also his 2-page report on this Tertiary Rewilding project in Wisconsin and Heim's photographs with captions of this project.

  • April 7, 2010 / by Connie Barlow, Torreya Guardian/ posting of 1986 USFWS official plan for managing T. taxifolia

    "I just linked several pages of this website to the official 1986 management plan of the USFWS for managing Torreya taxifolia as an endangered species. Two points within it especially interested me. First, Torreya Guardian Lee Barnes is cited in the references of that management plan for his 1983 and 1985 PhD work on clonal propagation of this species. (See p. 20 of the PDF report.) Second, on p. 4, habitat description, the Japanese species of genus Torreya is listed as growing as 'an understory element of beech forests in Japan.' This gives me great hope for the success of the 31 seedlings of T. taxifolia we planted in July 2008 near Waynesville NC, under a high deciduous canopy."

  • April 5, 2010 / by Vivian Negron-Ortiz, botanist USFWS, Panama City FL / 5-year status review of endangered Florida Torreya due July 10; working group solicited

    "The Service would like to assemble a recovery working group of those currently working on, and knowledgeable about, the natural history of Florida Torreya. The goal of this working group would be to provide input and recommendations to prevent the extinction of this species and work toward recovery. Recommendations from the working group will be incorporated into the 5-year status review which is due in July 2010. This working group would discuss past, current, and planned activities and their relationship to the recovery actions stipulated in the Recovery plan. This is important to evaluate so we don't duplicate recovery efforts. If you are interested in participating in this working group, please respond to me by 21 April 2010. Also, please advise me of other persons who should be included that I have omitted. I'm hoping to finalize the participant list by the end of this month, and propose to meet here at the Panama City Field Office in mid-May (May 11 or 12, or both if needed)." Editor's Note: Torreya Guardians is seeking to find a nearby representative who can attend this important meeting. The existing USFWS management plan for T. taxifolia (dated 1986) can be accessed via USFWS site or the TorreyaGuardians website here.

  • March 27, 2010 / by Jeff Zahner, horticulturalist, Cashiers/Highlands NC / Torreya taxifolia doing well

    "I just received a link to the Bob Zahner tree [at the Waynesville NC Torreya site planted in 2008] from my mom. It's such a pretty tree and it made me happy. I wanted to thank you for all you are doing to help the Torreya and wish you well for the coming Spring — it's finally here! Here at 4000 ft our Torreya are healthy and were missed by the ice-laden pine branches crashing around them. The littlest ones were completely covered with snow for five weeks straight but seem to be fine."

  • March 5, 2010 / by Michael Heim, science teacher at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe High School, Hayward WI / Notification of journal article authored on "rewilding" evergreen Box Huckleberry of eastern USA to its presumed pre-glacial habitat in nothern Wisconsin

    EDITOR'S NOTE: The photo-rich, 2-page article was published in the Winter 2010 issue of and titled, "Return of the Ericads: Students Dig and Reestablish a Prehistoric Species". Heim's project is bold and apparently exciting to the tribal students for the deep-time perspective that suggests this "eastern" USA plant may be deeply native to their own tribal lands. The article is posted here on this website in PDF. Species name is Gaylussacia brachycera.

  • March 17, 2010 / by Michael Heim, science teacher at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe High School, Hayward WI / Preliminary report of winter survival of Torreya taxifolia, Taxodium, and Taxus floridana plantings in nothern Wisconsin

    EDITOR's NOTE: See Feb 12 comment below for the context of this report. Click here for a PHOTO-ESSAY WEBPAGE OF MIKE HEIM'S TERTIARY REWILDING PROJECT IN WISCONSIN.

    "I checked [the Torreya taxifolia rooted clones] yesterday (the snow just melted off them) and they didn't do as well as I'd hoped. The foliage is fine, but many appear to have rotted or broken off at the base. The best-looking one though was planted far from the rest in a richer soil on a hardwood north slope above a frog pond and it appears okay. Strange, but the Taxus floridana with the torreyas are all doing extremely well with no winter damage, even though they grew much larger than the torreyas.
       "Okay, here's something else. Taxodium had a much more widespread range during the Tertiary (and somewhat during the last interglacial) than at present, probably due to its floating seeds which naturally disperse downstream. Well, I've planted over a hundred seedlings (seed from IL) again last summer in our creek, since the older ones have done extremely well in our beaver meadow (seedlings were underwater for a year and subsequently grew just fine!) and our small sphagnum bog. I'm planting another flat of them out this spring. Should look quite antediluvial some years from now, eh?...especially with long strands of Usnea lichen hanging from the branches (the lichens really love baldcypress)."

    MARCH 18 UPDATE: "Yesterday after work I took a good hard look at the torreyas. I think that a couple more are fine, as they popped right up from being pressed down to the ground from the snowpack. I also took a good hard look at the Wollemia and it looks good...certainly no foliar damage from being exposed to 0F before being covered by snow for 3.5 months! Still, these observations are pretty premature and I wouldn't hazard to say definitively who is alive and who is dead for another couple of weeks.

  • February 12, 2010 / by Michael Heim, science teacher at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe High School, Hayward WI / Torreya taxifolia and Taxus floridana clones rewilded into tribal forest of nothern Wisconsin

    "I planted out seven clones of T. taxifolia and one of Taxus floridana (rooted cuttings obtained with the help of a friend) up here in the northwoods of Wisconsin this past spring [2009]. All grew vigorously over the summer. When winter came they were exposed at 0F and since then have been covered deeply with snow. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that at least some of them will turn out to be hardy here as low shrubs. I'm wondering if Torreya grew here before the Pleistocene. Guess I might find out!"

  • February 2, 2010 / by Connie Barlow / Reviving Dehydrated Torreya Seeds by Hydrating

    While preparing the 300 Torreya taxifolia seeds from Fall 2009 Biltmore harvest for shipment, Lee Barnes strove to rehydrate the 'floaters', since advice is that the collected seeds must not be allowed to dry out before planting (see the propagation instruction page for more on this topic). Lee reports, in an exchange with the Arboretum de Villardebelle (which specializes in world conifers) "I rechecked my remaining floaters when first cleaned and now 15 out of 17 non-distributed seeds are sinkers. They had been stored in moist sphagnum moss in a refrigerator while in the process of being distributed. Dr. Ed Croom mentioned good germination of floaters from Florida sources but I've sent out sorted and labeled 'floaters/sinkers' to have folks observe any germination differences. I did have one seed fall behind a container and discovered it two weeks later. It was dry and the seed 'rattled' when shaken. There was an obvious drying of the seed and separation from the woody seed coat. You reinforce the need to never let seeds dry after collection and the benefit of soaking seeds prior to storage in moist media."

  • February 1, 2010 / by Arboretum de Villardebelle (SW France) / Photos and statistics of 2009 Biltmore Seeds Sent to Arboretum de Villardbelle added to online page

    "Here is the updated page with the seeds you sent me: http://www.pinetum.org/TorreyaGuardians.htm. [Note, scroll to the bottom of the page to get to the 2009 photos.] I added the statistics about the sizes of the seeds. Imo this should be done more often to have as precise data as possible, for instance for comparison with other origins or other species. When I received the seeds, I soaked them in water. All sank. After manipulation for scanning and measurements, one seed was floating. When you sent me the floating seeds were they all still floating? Usually floating seeds mean that they began to dry. Thereafter if sinking, they could take the water again and they should be ok." [In a follow-up email he added, "The seeds of Torreya californica are much bigger [than Torreya taxifolia]."]

  • January 30, 2010 / by Connie Barlow / The importance of deep-time thinking

    I forwarded the message by Patrick Shirey (January 10 comment below), to Josh Donlan (lead author of the Pleistocene Rewilding papers) and to several journalists who have been following the assisted migration issue. In my email I made this plea:

    What I feel is most lacking in conversations about assisted migration outside of our Torreya Guardians group and outside of the Pleistocene Rewilding conversation is a willingness to look at what is native habitat from a deep-time perspective. It's like almost all wildlife biologists are still stuck in the (Starker) Leopold Report conclusions of the 1970s, when Leopold was commissioned by the National Park Service (as I recall) to come up with a benchmark time (just prior to Columbus) that parklands would be managed for. Time for a new perspective! I have spent a lot of time with Paul S. Martin, Pleistocene ecologist and one of the coauthors of the Pleistocene Rewilding papers, and he really taught me to see thru deep-time eyes and how thoroughly mixed up species cohabitations were at the height of the glaciation and then in the huge variations in species recovery of northern ranges basically the community model (which his own work 5 decades ago had helped establish!) got thrown out and the opportunistic species frame came in (thanks in large part to the work of palynologist Hazel Delcourt).
       Overall, once one steps into the deep-time perspective, it becomes utterly rational to think of northward introductions not as moving outside of native range, but as really keeping pace with native range as extant species (by definition) have always had to do! Torreya was moved by us not into new habitat, but returned to its deep-time habitat (the southern Appalachians) which most likely was central (or even southerly) to its range for tens of millions of years prior to the onset of the Pleistocene.

  • January 10, 2010 / by Patrick Shirey / Symposium: Species Introductions and Reintroductions 2010

    I thought you might want to know about a species introductions and reintroductions symposium at Mississippi State University in April. It seemed like something that might interest the Torreya Guardians. I am considering submitting an abstract.

  • January 14, 2010 / by Lee Barnes / All but 1 of the remaining Torreya seedlings still surviving in Waynesville plantings

    I went by Sara Evan's property on Eagles Nest to check the Torreya. All but two looked great. The snow did not knock over the plants quite as much as at the Bryan Nature Garden. I'm guessing the snow was not as "wet" at the higher elevation. My friends at Grass Roots nursery near Junaluska measured lows of 0 degrees F., but I don't think it was quite as cold at Lake Junaluska. I measured 9 degrees F. as a low on the porch at my house in Waynesville. By the way, Lake Junaluska is mostly frozen over; I think I've only seen that 2-3 times in the last 30 years.
         The dead plant was the runt of the plantings and has looked pretty weak since the plantings. (Click here for more detail and photos of the tree, alive and dead.) It might resprout from the base in the spring, but I doubt it. I'll look closer at it next time I'm up there, maybe next week. The other weak plant was the second smallest transplant; it does have green needles at the base and I do expect it to leaf-out in the spring. Both of the plants were in the sunnier location.
         All in all, I think we had excellent survival rates with no care after first month of hand-watering during a drought. The rest of the plants look firmly established and I expect all to grow and prosper. This proves to me that Torreya can be successfully rewilded as transplants. Time will tell if they will successfully reseed themselves at our two plantings. (Torreya seeds have been spread hundreds of feet from the mother trees by squirrels at Biltmore Estate for many years.)
         I am saving some of the seeds from the Biltmore Estate to grow seedlings for a couple of years prior to transplanting at these two sites to try to introduce some genetic diversity (seeds from Biltmore and Woodlanders Nursery are from different sources, as well as the plant "Celia" that Connie got from Atlanta Botanical Gardens and carried across the country and back.) Same with seeds to Jack Johnson to add to his established plantings in North Georgia. We received 301 seeds from Biltmore Estate just before Christmas and I'm in the process to sending them out to Botanical Gardens and individuals at locations farther north. I want to get them to folks who can "ground stratify" them, exposing them to natural alternating day/night temperatures that greatly improve their germination based on Atlanta Botanical Gardens experience.

  • January 11, 2010 / by Lee Barnes / Distribution of 301 T. taxifolia seeds from Biltmore Gardens

    I just cleaned 301 seeds that are ready for distribution. There were 115 "floaters" and 186 "sinkers." I've downloaded Connie's list of Torreya Volunteers and also will look at my list of geographically important volunteers and Botanical Gardens that were sent poor quality seeds in the past (we really need folks with facilities to germinate and raise seedlings for several years prior to transplanting into the wild.) I'm wanting to get seeds out so that folks can stratify in situ, fluxuating day/night ground temperatures (per Determann's recommendations). I'm a little concerned about the large number of "floaters" (seeds that float in water), but personal communications with Dr. Ed Croom indicates his contacts with Maclay Gardens (FL) who had good germination with floaters.
        I'm wanting to keep some seeds for planting with our Waynesville sites: (I'm set-up to ground stratify seeds and grow to transplant size) so that we can increase genetic diversity here. I also want to send a good number of seeds to Jack Johnston who has had good germination procedures. I'm thinking 25-50 seeds for Waynesville and same for Jack.

  • December 20, 2009 / by Connie Barlow / Barlow interview of A. J. Bullard on the history of the Clinton NC Torreyas and their offspring

    In December 2009 Connie interviewed A. J. Bullard on his experience collecting 5,000 seeds in 1995 from 2 Torreya taxifolia in Clinton NC, believed to have been planted around 1850. In 1998 a hurricane killed one of the two, and in 1997 A. J. rescued 75 seedlings that squirrels had planted in nearby hedges and flower beds and a vacant lot that was scheduled to be mowed. Contact Connie Barlow (Connie at TheGreatStory dot org) if you wish to learn where those 75 seedlings may now be found, and A. J.'s experience with squirrel-Torreya symbiosis and his observation of how individual Torreya trees will produce both male and female reproductive structures, thus ensuring fertile seed production even in isolated lone trees (including the Norlina NC champion Torreya and the lone Clinton survivor or reproductive age.

  • December 20, 2009 / by Connie Barlow / Biltmore Gardens donated 2009 T. taxifolia seed harvest to Torreya Guardians

    This week Lee Barnes picked up some 300 seeds of Torreya taxifolia from Forest Historian Bill Alexander at Biltmore Gardens (Asheville NC), which has a grove of such trees that was planted more than 80 years ago. Distribution will happen soon to individuals that have the land, the commitment, the expertise, and the correct geography/climate to participate in assisted migration for this highly endangered conifer tree. Contact Connie Barlow (Connie at TheGreatStory dot org) if you wish to participate.

  • December 17, 2009 / by Connie Barlow / Important paper on the history, science, legality, and regulatory options for assisted migration

    Finally, a scholarly paper has been published that explores the gamut of considerations from an historic and objective standpoint. Titled "Assisted Migration Under the U.S. Endangered Species Act," it is so much more than that. It is the foundational paper for serious students or activists on this topic to begin their education. To find it, go to our annotated list of links on assisted migration on this website and scroll down to the note in red that calls attention to this crucial scholarly work:

  • November 28, 2009 / by Connie Barlow / Advice on stimulating reproductive activity in conifers

    Connie Barlow received this email advice from Claire Williams: "I work on conifer reproductive biology and have watched your group's effort to save this Torreya with great interest. The failure to reproduce is disturbing. But I have a question: have you tried any methods for stimulating female and male strobili using giberellins and other "stimulation" methods that work well with other conifers? If this holds interest, then Prof. Michael Greenwood at the University of Maine would be a good contact. He is the world's expert on when and how to stimulate strobili on any number of conifers."

  • November 18, 2009 / by Connie Barlow / More T. taxifolia in North Carolina reported
    A 2009 issue of the magazine Wildlife in North Carolina contained an editorial correction by Greg Jenkins titled "More N.C. Torreyas." It reads: "Mount Olive botanist A. J. Bullard called to inform us that some information was missing from our story "Rewilding a Native" by Sidney Cruze in the Aug 2009 issue. When we asked what was missing, Bullard blew our minds by revealing that there is another living Torreya taxifolia tree in North Carolina that is well over a century old. This tree was one of the two that were planted in Clinton in the 1850s, around the same time that it is estimated the state champion tree in Norlina was planted. A storm in the late 1990s knocked down one of the Clinton Torreyas, but the other survives today. Bullard also explained that the researchers had traced the Norlina and Clinton trees to a single source. Pomaria Nurseries, an antebellum outfit near Columbia, SC, sold a tremendous variety of native and exotic fruit trees, ornamental trees, shrubs and flowers during that era. Scientists made the connection because Osage orange trees were planted near both Torreya sites, and Pomaria sold both types of trees. Bullard and his late cousin, Bob Melvin, verified the identity of the Clinton trees in 1995 and collected 5,000 seeds from the trees, which they distributed to botanists across the state for attempted propagation. Seeds were planted at sites from Meredith College in Raleigh to Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. Perhaps the most surprising fact Bullard provided was that, contrary to botany textbooks, Torreya is not dioecious — that is, having male and female reproductive structures on separate plants. Rather, it is monoecious, because both the Norlina and Clinton trees are producing viable seeds with no other Torreya around. Bullard knows this firsthand because he ha two Torreya trees on his own property — both bearing fruit."

  • November 3, 2009 / by Connie Barlow / Torreya californica work in Placerville

    Brian Austin of Placerville CA sent Torreya Guardians this email: "I love your site. I don't really know of anyone around me that is as interested in this tree as I am. I live in Placerville, CA. Our climate is hot and dry during the summer. I have found Torreya only in deep, shady ravines. The trees are small, and seeds are apparently rare. I collected 6 seeds a couple of years ago (a fraction of what the trees produced that year). Four of them germinated this spring. I now have four seedlings that are perhaps 6" tall. They live in a shady spot where my ferns are happy. Whenever possible I educate others about this special tree. I admire the work that you all are doing. Species like Torreya are gems of the forest. Many of these gems are rare now in Placerville due to misuse of the forests, and sprawling development. Keep up the good work and I will do the same."

    Connie Barlow responded: "It is great to hear that you are caring for California Torreya in your local area. You might go to the Plant Guardians website, start a Torreya californica group, and see who shows up. I sponsored having the site created last year, but had to make is pretty much self-serve, as TorreyaGuardians.org takes up as much of my volunteer time as I have. Here is the link: http://www.plantguardians.org

  • August 24, 2009 / by Connie Barlow / New companion website: www.PlantGuardians.org

    I have instigated a companion website: PlantGuardians.org that, unlike TorreyaGuardians.org, should be largely self-running. Its purpose is to enable networking and rudimentary communications among citizen activists who want to discuss the needs and possible actions in behalf of other imperiled plant species or geographically unique populations.

  • June 10, 2009 / by Lee Barnes / Three of ten rewilded seedlings at Lake Junaluska lost to voles during winter.

    I'm sad to report that we have lost a total of 3 of the ten Torreya seedlings at Lake Junaluska [planted as seedlings July 31, 2008]. The loss appears to be from voles eating the bark. I'll send some photos when I get a chance. We are placing short wire-cages of 1/2 inch hardware cloth/rabbit wire around the remaining plants there. I'll try to get up to the Evans property set of trees in the next few days to report and get some photos. The remaining plants at Lake Junaluska have flushed out with 3-4 inches of new growth. The plants in the sunny area are doing the best, or at least seem to have the thicker foliage.

  • April 24, 2009 / by Lee Barnes / Why moving Torreya is the best way to save it.

    Editor's note: Torreya Guardian Lee Barnes recently responded to a journalist's email inquiry this way: To answer your question, "Why moving Torreya is the best way to save it?", I wish that we could reestablish Torreya back into its historical range (Appalachicola watershed drainage, FL-GA) but that may not be possible due to the human influence by introducing Phytophora root rot into the southern US along with the extensive cultivation of cotton along the Gulf States. There appears to currently be little to no natural seed reproduction in that area. Drought cycles may be becoming more extreme with global climate change.
       We proposed a logical solution that plantings within the deep time range shown in fossil pollen records (including WNC and over the entire northern hemisphere) are needed to produce additional seeds and evaluate new areas for establishment. Establishing seed producing populations of Torreya in diverse areas should act as a buffer to total loss due to unpredictable climate change. Many rare and useful plant species now only exist outside of their historical range (Franklinia, Metasequoia, Ginkgo, and many others) due to human concern for the survival of an individual species. We truly need to focus on protecting entire plant and animal communities, but when that is not possible due to habitat loss, we need to focus on short-term propagation and protection just to keep the species alive.

  • April 23, 2009 / by Jack Johnston / Report on T. taxifolia seeds planted fall 2008.

    Torreya taxifolia [planted as seedlings] are expanding buds here [mountains of NE Georgia]; all seedlings planted in the ground survived the winter. I added lime before heavy April rains, and that may have helped them. I have been told that the seeds I have in the ground were picked much too green, so it remains to be seen if any come up from last fall's harvest. I have three screened seed flats and have had a vole in one of them so am concerned. The vole came up from underneath. I'll try to drop a note to let you know when germination occurs if it happens in spring. Last year nothing germinated until summer.

  • March 25, 2009 / by Connie Barlow / Michelle Nijuis' article "Taking Wildness in Hand" (on Torreya taxifolia assisted migration controversy) has been selected for the 2009 edition of Best American Science and Nature Writing.

    The anthology will be published next fall by Houghton-Mifflin. The guest editor, New Yorker environmental writer Elizabeth Kolbert, selected Michelle Nijhuis' story published in the May/June issue of Orion magazine, called "To Take Wildness in Hand," which describes the promise and perils of "assisted migration" of species, with Torreya taxifolia being the species focus. Congratulations Michelle! (The article can be accessed in full online at http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/2966/.)

  • January 3, 2009 / by Connie Barlow / Report of T. taxifolia seedlings planted in Highlands August 2008

    I have just posted on this website a new webpage in which Russell Regnery reports on planting 10 Torreya taxifolia seedlings on his property near Highlands, NC in August 2008. Click here.

  • December 5, 2008 / by Connie Barlow / Professional Responses to my query about keeping 2 Torreya species physically separate

    I recently received a query from a plant nursery owner in Oregon who wanted to participate in our program of propagating the eastern species of genus Torreya, the highly endangered Torreya taxifolia. I responded:

    "Thank you for your interest in helping this endangered species. Torreya Guardians has received one other offer of private lands for growing Torreya taxifolia along the Pacific (that was in California) and, while we appreciate the offers to help, we are careful to work with landowners only east of the Mississippi or on a separate continent. The reason is that Torreya californica is the Torreya species on your side of the continent, and we don't want to encourage any mixing of pollen types. Its northernmost outpost in the Coast Range is not far from the Oregon border, so in the decades and centuries ahead, California torreya may be looking up in your direction."

    I then sent off an email query to the professionals who have published or managed on the assisted migration controversy, and asked whether this was an important policy guideline for us Guardians to follow. All three concurred with my response:

    MARK SCHWARTZ: "Connie, You are not being paranoid about pollen mixing. It would be VERY BAD to mix pollen. This is what caused the de-listing of the Dusky Seaside Sparrow: the pure genotype was lost (owing to intentional cross-breeding because of there being 6 males and 0 females). Nonetheless, if a listed species is hybridized out of existence, then the species will be delisted. That is not good. We KNOW that some nurseries are not as careful as they should be. We have no idea what interested collectors do. This is why I think it is very dangerous to advocate volunteer citizen groups to take on the task of translocating species for conservation and why I am opposed to what Torreya Guardians does. I think that, despite good intentions, these efforts can result in more harm than good. I am not so worried about Torreya Guardians, per se. But the promulgation of these efforts to other species can have disastrous effects on biodiversity. Please be very careful about who you suggest what to in this regard. I, for one, do not want free-wheeling interest groups for all 5000 rare taxa in the US." [coauthor of April 2007 paper on assisted migration, journal Conservation Biology and specialist on Torreya taxifolia]

    CHRIS THOMAS: "Dear Connie, Whilst I do not know anything specific about the Torreya species, I think that your initial response is appropriate. One of the key questions in Hoegh-Guldberg et al. 2008 Science paper is "Do benefits of translocation outweigh the biological and socioeconomic costs and constraints?" When translocation would increase the potential for future (given future climate change range shifts) genetic introgression and competition between related species, and translocation would involve movement between biogeographic regions (E and W USA count as separate in this case), the answer will in almost all cases be no. Given that there are other opportunities in the East, the answer to this question should be no with respect to transfer to the western USA." [(coauthor of the July 2008 Forum on assisted colonization, journal Science]

    VIVIAN NEGRON-ORTIZ: "I appreciate the conservation efforts in the recovery of T. taxifolia. However, interspecific hybridization should be avoided between these two species (or other species in the genus); their genetic integrity should be maintained. I don't recommend translocating T. taxifolia to the West; the native range of T. californica should be completely avoided. If T. taxifolia 'migrates' due to climate change it should be toward the East. Also, species introduced into non-native areas may disrupt 'native' species assemblages that are already impacted by environmental change. Preferable, a careful reintroduction scheme should be followed." [Botanist, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Panama City FL]

  • November 20, 2008 / by Connie Barlow / Autumn Progress Report on Waynesville-2 Rewilding of Torreya seedlings
    In mid-November 2008, Lee Barnes and I visited the site where we had planted in July the second group of Torreya taxifolia seedlings. the only ones that looked stressed were the three planted in the driest hottest part of the south-facing mountain slope (3,400 feet). The others looked great. On our Nov 13 visit, the oaks still had their leaves, but by Nov 18, almost all the oak leaves were down. That meant that the Torreyas now had full sun for photosynthesis. Because the forest closed canopy here is entirely deciduous, we envision that the Torreyas will thrive here by photosynthesizing mostly in spring and fall. Meanwhile, during the hottest and driest part of the summer, they will be protected by shade.

    I also just finished adding a separate web page for each individual tree planted (a total of 31 new webpages). All the photos (including grid photos Lee Barnes took of each in August) that pertain to that tree, and all reports of progress or setbacks, will henceforth be posted on those individual pages. Those individual pages are easily accessed from the Corneille Bryan Native Garden main page and the Evans Property main page.

  • November 7, 2008 / by Jack Johnston / Torreya seeds at Smithgall Woods, GA site
    Just a word on the Torreya at Smithgall--held seeds until I picked the final ones Nov. 5. I think they survived because squirrels are scarce this year. A broken branch with a point of attachment was cut away from the parent bush (female) and cuttings from it were stuck. We'll see if they take. The age of the cuttings is such that if they root the plants should flower in a few years.

  • October 23, 2008 / by Brian Keel / Posting of chapters from my "Assisted Migration" PhD thesis
    I have noticed the term assisted colonization showing up in several sources. I feel that assisted colonization and assisted migration are two similar but separate concepts. The attached document is part of chapter one of my dissertation that may help clarify the difference. [Editor's Note: Click for "Defining Migration" chapter or "Assisted Migration" chapter].

  • October 22, 2008 / by Connie Barlow / Assisted Migration Public Talks I've Given this Month in Wisconsin
    In the past 4 years I have on several occasions presented a digital slide program on the need for assisted migration of Torreya taxifolia. This month marks the first opportunities I have had to present illustrated talks on our actual assisted migration action this past July. The first one was at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, north of Milwaukee WI. About 25 staff from 2 nature centers attended, mostly staff who teach visiting school classes. The second opportunity happened earlier this week, when I presented this program to 30 college students at Edgewood College in Madision WI, at a required "Intro to Natural Science" course.

  • September 3, 2008 / by Connie Barlow / Assisted Migration and Torreya Guardians reported in online edition of Nature journal

    "Moving on Assisted Migration" news report by Emma Marris, Nature, online 28 August 2008. One of the top journals in science reports on the special session on assisted migration at the Ecological Society of America meeting in August 2008. Torreya Guardians is presented as taking the action lead in pressing for a rethinking of how biodiversity is best protected.

  • September 2, 2008 / by Connie Barlow / Review of Hazel Delcourt's Forests in Peril posted on Amazon.com

    My 5-star book review begins, "Forests in Peril is the book that launched our citizen naturalists group on the internet: Torreya Guardians. In reading Hazel's book (2002), I was struck by how important the "pocket reserves" were to the preservation of rich forest species during the peak of the last glacial episode some 18,000 years ago (as well as all the previous glacial episodes). One of those pocket reserves runs along the edge of the Apalachicola River in the Florida Panhandle. And it is here that the most endangered conifer tree in the world, Torreya taxifolia, is gravely imperiled."
        I strongly encourage those involved in the assisted migration controversy to read this book, in order to gain an essential deep-time perspective.

  • August 3, 2008 / by Connie Barlow / 31 Seedlings of T. taxifolia REWILDED IN NORTH CAROLINA!
    Wow! On July 30, Torreya Guardians undertook the first truly "assisted migration" of the highly endangered conifer, Torreya taxifolia. We planted 31 potted seedlings on two forested sites near Waynesville, North Carolina. This "rewilding" effort was documented by a writer and a photographer commmissioned by Audubon magazine. The article will probably appear in the March 2009 issue. Meanwhile, sample our journey via:

  • PHOTO-ESSAY OF THE REWILDING ACTION.

  • PHOTO-DOCUMENTATION of the first 10 PLANTINGS.

  • PHOTO-DOCUMENTATION of the final 21 PLANTINGS.

  • Lots was happening leading up to that historic event. You can gain a sense of the preparation by viewing the CHRONOLOGY of events leading up to the rewilding action.

  • July 19, 2008 / by Connie Barlow / Assisted Migration/Colonization advocated in Science journal

    POLICY FORUM: ECOLOGY: "Assisted Colonization and Rapid Climate Change" by O. Hoegh-Guldberg, L. Hughes, S. McIntyre, D. B. Lindenmayer, C. Parmesan, H. P. Possingham, and C. D. Thomas, in Science 18 July 2008: 345-346. Because this influential paper uses the term assisted colonization, rather than assisted migration Connie Barlow has added a webpage to seek comments on pros and cons of the two competing terms: "Assisted Migration or Assisted Colonization: What's in a Name?"

  • June 12, 2008 / by Connie Barlow / Rewilding of 31 T. taxifolia to NC July 30 2008!
    Torreya Guardians will be planting 31 potted seedlings on two privately owned forested habitats near Waynesville North Carolina. July 30 is the date set so that Torreya Guardians Connie Barlow, Lee Barnes, and Jack Johnston, as well as a reporter and photographer sent by Audubon Magazine, will all be able to converge at the sites. For more information, contact: Connie Barlow.

  • June 10, 2008 / by Connie Barlow / Torreya Guardians featured in May/June 2008 issue of Orion Magazine
    Orion Magazine now has available online a long article that poignantly highlights the controversy over assisted migration of plants in a time of climate change, and Torreya Guardians are the featured group in this effort. Click here for "Taking Wildness in Hand: Rescuing Species", by Michelle Nijhuis. (You can also post a comment there online.)
  • 03/05/08 / by Lee Barnes and Connie Barlow / Distribution of Fall 2007 seeds donated by Biltmore Gardens

    EMAIL SENT TO ALL FRIENDS OF TORREYA GUARDIANS
    Subject: 2008 Torreya Guardians Seed Distribution

    Dear Torreya Guardians,
        We are pleased to again offer packets of Torreya taxifolia (Florida Stinking Cedar) seed from the 2007 seed harvest at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. We thank Bill Alexander and his staff for collecting and sharing seeds for this grassroots distribution project. We are releasing 20 packets, each with 5 male and 5 female seeds to allow for better pollination. We are first offering seeds to the 2006 Distribution volunteers since most of them experienced low germination rates from refrigerator stored seeds. Seeds are currently being stored under natural temperatures but should be requested as soon as possible due to my recovery from hip surgery in mid-March.
        Thanks to Connie Barlow for her detailed notes taken during her site visit in December 2007 to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Ron Determann's generous sharing of their highly successful germination procedures is available from our website http://www.torreyaguardians.org/propagate.html. Connie also has provided additional photographs and additional information on rooting cuttings, as well as, more info on site selection, shading and need for periodic liming. I will provide copies of this information with each mailing.
        Key to successful germination is cold stratification to duplicate nature's cycles in ground beds that get the full range of daily temperature cycles (freeze/thaw) vs. constant 40-45 degree F. temperature storage in a refrigerator. The seeds to be distributed have only been partially stratified so you will need to plant them in protected beds where they receive natural temperatures for a month or two. Simple wire screening is recommended to protect from squirrels.
        Please email your requests to me and provide complete shipping information. Connie and I are donating all mailing and packing costs and ask that you occasionally report germination status, and plant growth, fruiting, and seed production. Volunteers need to be committed for 10-15 years before good seed production is expected and be willing to further distribute seeds.
        Thank you for your interest in preserving our national botanical treasure Torreya.
        Happy Trails, Lee

    PS from Connie:
        1. This summer, Orion Magazine will be publishing a feature article on Torreya Guardians work in a time of climate change.
        2. Watch the rewilding page too, especially the July 2007 post I made there about Atlanta Botanical Gardens looking for INSTITUTIONS to send seeds and seedlings to. They've got a huge inventory. Unlike Torreya Guardians, they cannot send seeds to individuals, but nature centers and botanical gardens should contact Ron Determann at Atlanta Botanical Garden directly to participate.

  • 01/17/08 / by Sylvain Meier / Swiss Arboretum experience with genus Torreya
    I'm Sylvain Meier, a freelance forest engineer from Switzerland involved mostly as a volunteer in the development of the dendrological collections of the Swiss National Arboretum. www.arboretum.ch I'm also in charge of rebuilding a Forest Model of the Pacific Northwest (2.5 ha). It includes a few California Nutmegs! We have a collection of different Torreya species including Torreya taxifolia. Unfortunately those trees come mainly from nurseries and don't really have the value such a collection should have. Checking the plants two years ago I noticed plenty of nuts under the supposed Torreya taxifolia. I realized that it is certainly not a Torreya taxifolia as nuts are much more like those of Torreya nucifera from Japan and Korea. Seeds are long and in no case a little bit rounded.
        To improve the value of our collection and test the right species under our relatively mild climate we would very much appreciate a few seeds or cuttings. Is it possible? California nutmeg is growing very well in Switzerland (it exist in parks in the lowland). In Geneva they regularly produce sound seeds. Japanese nutmeg is more seldom but apparently quite hardy too. I have been to Japan last spring and have seen very often the Torreya nucifera var radicans that is growing in snowy areas of the west side of Honshu. I'm not really sure Torreya taxifolia is actually growing in Switzerland...
    Thanks again for your promising work.
    Sylvain Meier
    c/o Arboretum National du Vallon de l'Aubonne
    Switzerland
  • 12/18/07 / by Connie Barlow / Advice on Propagating T. taxifolia from seeds or cuttings

    In early December 2007, I visited Ron Determann and David Ruland at the Atlanta Botanical Garden and toured their Torreya taxifolia propagation facilities. Most impressive! I have added to this website a catalog of advice for propagating this endangered tree from seeds and from branch cuttings, and have embellished the page with lots of photographs.

  • 11/1/07 / by Connie Barlow / Papers Debating Assisted Migration

    I have posted a new page and I keep updating it to keep track of the "assisted migration" debate that heated up January 2007, with the lead story of the January issue of Conservation magazine. It was a prelude to the April 2007 publication in Conservation Biology of "A Framework for Debate of Assisted Migration in an Era of Climate Change" by Jason S. McLachlan, Jessica J. Hellman, and Mark W. Schwartz, Conservation Biology, April 2007, Vol 21: 297-302. Torreya Guardians was prominently featured in both pieces. To keep up on this debate, visit the assisted migration compendium of papers page on this website.

  • 7/30/07 / dialogue bt anon and Lee Barnes / Legend of the Biggest T. taxifolia Tree in Norlina NC

    Anon asks: The Norlina site is in Granville County, near the Virginia line. I spent a whole day there, and scoured the town in search of a Torreya taxifolia. I even contacted the Agricultural Extension agent, and he knows of no such tree in or around Norlina. I would like to think the legend is true, but I tend to think that if there were once a T. taxifolia, it has either been forgotten or removed by newer homeowners.

       Lee Barnes answers: I've been to the Norlina Torreyas in mid-1980s. [Photo to left was taken by Lee of the Norlina tree at that time.] There was a very large torreya (notably a Champion so must be other records on girth/height/etc.) and many smaller trees that appeared to have been transplanted/moved around the landscape. Bill Alexander at Biltmore Gardens knows of the tree; his wife was a roommate with a woman who was "related" to the tree, possibly a daughter of the landowner. He can give you more info. As I remember, the tree was given to a NC Senator, but I cannot remember details of over twenty years ago! I remember the tree had numerous basal sprouts(many dozens in a clump) that would make good cutting material. I recommend dormant cuttings after a few hard frosts in the fall. Good luck on the hunt for cuttings... Happy Trails, Lee

  • 7/27/07 / by Connie Barlow / Seeds and seedlings from Atlanta Botanical Garden are available to institutions!

    Click to visit a long comment I posted in July 2007 on our Status of Rewilding webpage. It includes information on what the Atlanta Botanical Garden is currently doing in support of the official Conservation Recovery Plan for Torreya taxifolia as a highly endangered species. It also includes tips on how to have best success in germinating the seed.

  • 7/19/07 / by Connie Barlow / journalist interest in Torreya taxifolia as poster plant for global warming and assisted migration

    Over the past week or so, I have received queries from two print journalists and one public radio journalist who wanted to converse about possibilities about their doing major stories on how global warming is already endangering a plant species and how assisted migration is being pursued as a result. This all got started because of a journal article by Mark Schwartz et al. on the topic of assisted migration, published in the spring issue of Conservation Biology, which prompted a preceding popular article on the subject by Douglas Fox in the sibling magazine, Conservation (cover story of January 2007 issue). Douglas chose Torreya as the lead character in that story.
        The New York Times and other news agencies rapidly picked up the story, so I posted and periodically update a new page on this website, assisted migration. If you google "assisted migration" the proposed standards page on this website consistently comes up at or near the top, so journalists have found their way to me.
        If and when any of this second round of stories come to fruition, I will post them on that webpage and also note the event on this comments page. Meanwhile, know that I am recommending for the journalists to directly contact the on-the-ground players in this, both among us Torreya Guardians, and those in the institutional settings.
        Together for Torreya, Connie

  • 7/9/07 / dialogue bt Lee Barnes and Jack Johnston / rooting T. taxifolia cuttings

    Q: Hi Lee,
        I'm asking for feedback. Some Torreya cuttings stuck last Oct. are still green and may be struggling to root. I keep them under shade cloth to reduce the stress. If they root, would you expect them to grow any this year? I basically stuck the cuttings in pots, no mist, no cover, just shade. Did use rooting hormone. Jack

    A: Jack,
        I've been most successful rooting cuttings in the fall after hard frosts have put the buds into dormancy. Cuttings taken at other times tend to flush new growth prior to rooting. So do you have any roots? or callus/excessive callus at the bottom end of the cuttings? I would have expected rooting within a few months. What strength rooting hormone did you use? Also, evergreen cuttings often benefit from scoring the bottom sides of the cutting. I generally used a sharp knife to lightly scape bark off the cutting along two sides of the bottom inch of the cutting. Larger diameter cuttings 1/8 to 1/4 inch diameter worked better than smaller diameter cuttings. The root system of cuttings tend to be thick, unbranched and brittle. I hope this helps. It's been about 20 years since I've done Torreya cuttings. I never had trouble rooting but I had access to a mist system. It is important to root cuttings with upright growth. Lateral branches will root but plageotrophic growth and only grow as a groundcover. Happy Trails, Lee

    NOTE by Connie Barlow:
        Lee's point about taking cutting stock from upright growth reminds me of how much I have benefited from this knowledge when viewing ginkgo trees along streets and sidewalks. Because the fruit of the female trees has such a repugnant smell when fallen, our society puts a premium on ensuring that only male trees show up in public places, and they do that by rooting cuttings from demonstrably male trees. But if lateral cuttings are used, the "tree" still believes it is a branch and thus grows strangely. I have read that this problem can be solved by letting the "tree" grow enough to establish a good root and then cutting it back, so that the suppressed buds at the base sprout a whole new stem, and this time the stem knows it is supposed to make a whole tree.

  • 6/14/07 / by Jeff Morris / another germination from 2005 T. taxifolia seeds

    "Last Sunday, I noticed my first seedling sprout from one of the seeds. I am going on vacation, after which I will take photos, and hopefully have a couple more to photograph."

  • 6/12/07 / by Jack Johnston / T. taxifolia seedlings available at S. Carolina nursery

    "Woodlander's Nursery at Aiken SC has Torreya taxifolia for sale. The nursery is not willing to ship the plants across the state line since they are endangered, nor can one casually visit the nursery and buy them. An order must be placed in advance and a pickup appointment made. Availability can be determined by calling the nursery. The price is less than $20 per plant. The plants are a few years old. The several I have planted are growing but did shed some leaves in the drought.
        Here are web links, first to the Woodlands home page and then the Torreya page:
         http://www.woodlanders.net/index.cfm/fuseaction/plants.main/index.htm
         http://www.woodlanders.net/index.cfm?fuseaction=plants.plantDetail&plant_id=949

  • 3/12/07 / by Kara Ferris of Decatur GA / "I have three T.taxifolia on my property"

    "I have three T. taxifolia on my property: two large trees and one medium tree with a clump of small trees and sprouts (maybe seedlings?) around it. They produce a lot of cones, but I haven't seen mature ones. I haven't really looked that hard, though. Maybe there are treasures hidden in the ground around them, which hasn't been disturbed in years.
       It's quite possible that these trees are from the original population. My late grandfather-in-law, Harry Dewar, was an electrical engineer who often worked for the TVA on dam projects. He collected specimens from all over the South and planted them on this property, formerly a pasture, now a forest. This house was completed in 1952, around the same time as the Appalachicola dam. It would make sense that he would collect specimens from the area to be flooded, assuming he was there, but I have no proof of this.
       In any case, I would like someone to come look at the trees and tell me how I can help to preserve them. I want to make some changes to that area of the property — take out the non-natives and get rid of some pines and magnolias — but I'm afraid to alter the conditions lest it affect the existing trees. I would love to plant more T. taxifolia in place of the common trees, if I can get them. I'm also interested in planting some Franklinia.
       Please email or call me and let me know how I can help with this or any other conservation projects. You can forward this email to any other interested parties."
       Thank you,
       Kara C. Ferris, Decatur, GA

    NOTE/CORRECTION 6/15/07, Ron Determan of the Atlanta Botanical Garden submitted this comment: "The trees on the Ferris property in Decatur are the usual Cunninghamia lanceolata and NOT T.taxifolia. I don't know how many of those I have checked out over the years and found them to be that."

  • 3/13/07 / by Leigh Brooks / box turtles are more likely dispersers
    "Hi Connie,
    Intriguing hypothesis about the gopher tortoises, but I much prefer your earlier idea that there was some other seed disperser that has gone extinct. From my experience here in Florida, the gopher tortoise and T. taxifolia just don't share the same habitat. The box turtle is the one inhabiting T. taxifolia grounds, rich and shady hardwood forests. The gopher prefers high, dry, sandy areas where they can easily dig long burrows.
        I checked The Fossil Vertebrates of Florida, edited by Richard Hulbert Jr. It says box turtles (Terrapene carolina) are common in Pleistocene beds; they are herbivorous and primarily terrestrial; they were more widespread in the past, though never common; that gigantism is typical in Pleistocene coastal populations but the subspecies is extinct. Among land tortoises, besides gophers, there were larger tortoises in the genus Hesperotestudo. Subgenus Hesperotestudo reached 2 feet, subgenus Caudochelys grew to over a meter. Both subgenera lived through the late Pleistocene. Evidence suggests early people in FL found giant tortoises and hunted them.
        Now get this: "Giant tortoises are important paleoecologic indicators of relatively mild winter temperatures, as they cannot withstand prolonged periods of freezing. Their presence in Florida and elsewhere throughout the southern Unites States during the Pleistocene Epoch is seen as evidence that winter temperatures were actually on average milder during the so-called Ice Age than at present." We've seen how comfortable Torreya is in a colder climate, so maybe tortoises were not the main disperser for Torreya. Any other suspects?
        In any case, if someone is going to test this, it seems it should be done on box turtle as well as gopher tortoise. Also, is there a reason for not using T. taxifolia itself if seeds are available for assisted migration?"

  • 3/12/07 / by Connie Barlow, TorreyaGuardians main contact / don't give up hope on germinating more T. taxifolia seeds

    "Euan - Thank you for the info on the germination of 1 of 10 seeds of T. taxifolia. Don't give up hope on the other nine! It is possible that T. taxifolia co-evolved with tortoises as dispersal agents, so the seed coat might be designed tough enough to get through an animal's digestive tract intact. Absent that natural acidic treatment, it might take longer and variably among the seeds. I wrote a book, The Ghosts of Evolution: Nonsensical Fruit, Missing Partners, and Other Ecological Anachronisms, (Basic Books, 2001) in which I discovered, for example, that absent passage through a gut or physical scarification with a knife, the seeds of American honelocust (Gleditsia triacanthos) can take 3 years or more to germinate, and American Kentucky coffee tree (Gymnocladus dioica) can take 7 years. I found that when I scarred them with a knife in my kitchen, all viable seeds germinated in 3 days. Here are three on-line articles that I published about that book:

    article in Natural History
    article in Wild Earth
    article in Arnoldia

    I am trying to locate someone or an institution in Florida interested in testing Torreya californica whole "fruits" on the large gopher tortoises in Florida, as in my 2001 book I surmised that the pulpy sarcotesta covering the seed might be an attractive food for the tortoise (which is known to eat the pulpy covered cycad seeds here). The experiment would not only test whether gopher tortoises find the fruit attractive but also whether passage through its gut affects germination success and timing. My hypothesis is that local extirpation of the gopher tortoise (and extinction of larger Pleistocene species of tortoise) by paleoIndians living in the tiny pocket refuge as the Ice Age waned may have prevented dispersal of Torreya taxifolia northward to its interglacial habitat in the southern Appalachian Mountains."

  • 3/11/07 / by Euan Roxburgh, U.K. / germination of spring 2006 planting of T. taxifolia seeds

    "Dear Torreya Guardians: I've germinated one Torreya taxifolia seed. It germinated in December 2006 outside in a pot. The other 9 seeds, sorry to say, did not germinate. The seedling is now 2 inches high. I have one other clone here of Torreya taxifolia." [Editor's note: This volunteer grower received a packet of 10 Torreya taxifolia seeds from the Fall 2005 harvest at the Biltmore Gardens of North Carolina].

  • 3/6/07 / by Didier Maerki, Arboretum de Villardebelle in southern France / spring 2006 planting of T. taxifolia seeds have germinated!

    "Dear Torreya Guardians: This is to inform you that the 2 first seeds germinated and are sprouting. Both labeled as [possible] male, date of sowing 16 May 2006. Best Wishes, Didier"

  • 1/30/07 / by Didier Maerki, Arboretum de Villardebelle in southern France / new species of T. taxifolia described in China

    "Dear Torreya Guardians: A new species of Torreya has been described from Sichuan in China:

    Torreya parvifolia Yi, L. Yang et Long, a new species of the Taxaceae from Sichuan, China, is described and illustracted. The new species is closely related to Torreya yunnanensis Cheng et L. K. Fu, from which it differs apparently by the shorter and smaller stem, 4 to 5m high, 10 to 15cm diameter; smaller leaves, (1.2)1.5~2cm long, 2.2~3mm broad, acute on the apex with short acumen, rotund or rotundly cuneate at the base, upper surface only below with inconspicuous 2-canaliculates, under surface with 2 stomatic bands broader grey white, nearly as width as mitrib and green side; seeds with arillate obovoid or rare nearly globose, smaller, 1.5~2cm diameter. SOURCE: click here

  • "A Radical Step to Preserve Species: Assisted Migration" by Carl Zimmer, New York Times (Science Times), 23 January 2007 (lead story).
    Content: References a forthcoming paper to be published in the journal Conservation Biology that encourages debate on the topic, by Mark Schwartz, Jason McLachlan, and Jessica Hellman

  • "When Worlds Collide" by Douglas Fox, Conservation Magazine, Jan-March 2007 (cover story).
    This is an article exploring the debate about assisted migration of plants in an era of global warming. The work of Torreya Guardians is mentioned.

  • 11/15/06 / by Karl Studenroth, NW Florida Environmental Conservancy / Collaboration between our groups

    "Hello! I came across your website recently about the FL Torreya tree and I was very impressed! It's great to see your site and all the detailed information on it! I'm Karl Studenroth, a field ecologist-herpetologist. I did extensive research at Torreya State Park from 1994 to 1999. I did amphibian and reptiles surveys, rare & endangered species surveys, ecosystem classification and mapping, among many other things. I also specifically surveyed and mapped Torreya trees in the park. I have a special love for the Torreya tree and of course Torreya S.P. and that area. Two years ago I founded the Northwest Florida Environmental Conservancy. I just wanted to let you know that I put some brief info about your Torreya Guardians website, and a link to your site on one of our web pages (page 12 - Steepheads). I hope we can perhaps work together and support each others groups in the future. Keep up the great work!" www.nwflec.com

  • 10/20/06 / by Didier Maerki, Arboretum de Villardbelle (southern France) / Expecting 18 months for 2005 harvest of T. taxifolia seeds to germinate
    [Note: The Arboretum de Villardbelle specializes in world conifers and it was the recipient of a package of 10 T. taxifolia seeds from the 2005 harvest at the Biltmore Gardens.]

    "I have a good experience with Torreya californica seeds. Fertile seeds usually take 18 months to germinate — that is during the second Spring after collection, provided they are kept moist all the time. Very seldom would a few seeds germinate at the end of the first Summer. They will even germinate if kept in the refrigerator below 5*C.
       About our Torreya taxifolia seeds, none of mine germinated so far, but I am not worried. I will send a message (and a photo) as soon as the first will germinate/sprout. They are in 10 tubes and during the Winter I will keep them outside, but in a frost free place."

  • 10/16/06 / by Jack Johnston, Highlands NC / Place to purchase T. taxifolia seedlings in Aiken, SC
    "I visited Woodlanders Nursery (in Aiken, SC) today and purchased 3 T. taxifolia for $16.50 each. Since these plants are endangered, they do not ship, but anyone can drive to the nursery after first placing an order by computer. They do not allow any walk-in sales. The plants are approximately 18 inches tall and look great. The inventory at the nursery is 60+ plants at this time. They are seedling grown. I am not aware of where the seed source. I do know that there are a lot of unusual trees planted around Aiken, and it is possible that they are growing there.
        Note: It seems that the seeds produced this year by the T. taxifolia growing at a DNR preservation site about 40 miles from here were harversted by squirrels around October 7."

  • 9/10/06 / by Peter White (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) / Offer to ID Highlands Torreya at UNC
    "We also have lots of Torreya material at the Univ. of NC (NCU is the herbarium acronym). The key that I sent to Connie included both North American species.
       Wrapping material in damp newspaper, then that in a plastic bag, with the material sent by reasonably rapid mail, would insure the material was fresh when received.
       Our Herbarium is curated by Alan Weakley who is writing a flora for NC, SC, VA, and GA. Since folks from Highlands have often sent herbarium material to our herbarium, we may even have specimens on hand of the same trees."

  • 9/10/06 / by Leigh Brooks / Chinese botanical imports possible cause of T. taxifolia decline?
    "I heard a theory new to me this week as to why the torreya started dying off. Some unknown organization was promoting the Chinese holly (not sure if it was a holly or a tree that looks similar to torreya called China fir) and giving away trees in the area for planting. This was supposedly about the time the torreyas got blighted, and some of the locals are convinced it was the cause."

  • 9/08/06 / by Dean Gallagher (Imperiled Species Manager, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission) / T. tax in Tallahassee still surviving.
    "I checked on the Torreyas at the Tallahassee Museum. They all look pretty sad with only low spreading branches. Still, they are surviving and that counts for something."

  • 9/06/06 / by Peter White (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) / Key for distinguishing Torreya species.
    "Here is the key in Flora North America. It includes mostly vegetative characters, and since the cones you saw may have been immature, did you try keying the needles?
  • Two-year-old branches reddish brown; leaves 3-8 cm, flattened on adaxial side, with 2 deeply impressed, glaucous bands of stomates abaxially, emitting pungent odor when crushed; aril light green streaked with purple; California. 1 Torreya californica http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=233501306.

  • Two-year-old branches yellowish green, yellowish brown, or gray; leaves 1.5-3.8 cm, rounded on adaxial side, with 2 scarcely impressed, grayish bands of stomates abaxially, emitting fetid odor when crushed; aril dark green streaked with purple; Florida, Georgia. 2 Torreya taxifolia http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=220013607."
  • 9/06/06 / by Robbin Moran (New York Botanical Garden) / Torreya nucifera at NYBG.
    "I uploaded some photos of Torreya nucifera at www.plantsystematics.org (type Torreya in the Taxon search field, and the images will appear). You probably have better images, but you a most welcome to use these if not. I remember when we looked for this species in the Garden's conifer collection, which at the time was being renovated. That collection is now beautiful--one of the most pleasant places in the Garden [New York Botanical Garden]."

  • 8/31/06 / by Jack Johnston / Thoughts on ID for the Highlands NC Torreya group.
    "When comparing two groups of plants at different sites, it is entirely possible as you know, for variability due to differences in genetic material. When you say that the Highlands and Biltmore populations are different, and are basing it on fruit shape alone, I do not think that is enough. For example, I collect Stewartia seeds and find all kinds of differences from one plant to another in capsule shape, leaf shape, and habit of the plants. If you are convinced that the two populations are different species, it should be based on several characteristics.
        I have just returned from Oregon and was in a yard where an atypical Douglas fir was misidentified by a long time resident based on the bark and limb patterns. Had he looked at the cones, it would have been easy to correctly identify.
        Brown leaves, twigs: Something similar can happen with Canadian hemlocks, and it is not the wooly adelgid problem.
        Seed availability: assuming competition from squirrels, less than 100% harvest, and seeds that are non-viable, it remains to be seen what can be done this year. I hope your man on the site is aggressive in collecting. For example, I collected Magnolia fraseri before going to Oregon (early date for harvest) and when I returned, the seeds were gone from the wild sites. In this case, a 12 day delay in harvest would have meant a missed crop.
        Cuttings: for a backyard hobbist to try to grow T. taxifolia from cuttings would mean a probable loss of the cuttings. Have you considered asking the folks at Biltmore to grow cuttings for this effort and making them available? If they are willing, this should take little greenhouse space, and rooted cuttings can be available in 12 months.
        Site requirements: checking with the folks already growing Torreya in Georgia as to the best site requirements will save making a lot of mistakes. For example, with magnolias it can generally be said that full sun is best, but some in the group like shade. I do not think that one can compare the California material to the Florida as to site requirements.
        Future seed set at Biltmore: assuming that Biltmore will continue to provide seeds, an annual visit to the trees and a comparison to your mapping should be done. This will indicate which trees are producing fruit, if a tree does not produce, if new ones start setting seeds, and if there are deaths." "

  • 8/30/06 / by Rob Nicholson (Smith College Botanical Garden)/ T. taxifolia efforts at Smith Botanical Garden (MA)
    "We no longer have any Torreya, as I shipped them all south where they can be put in the ground. We propagated about 4 or 5 thousand of the cuttings so I felt we had done about as much as we could. If a tenth of those survive to seeding size, I'll be happy."

  • 7/11/06 / by Connie Barlow / Two New Web Pages on North Carolina Site Visits to Torreya have just been posted.
    Webmaster Connie Barlow has just posted photo-essays of August 2006 site visits to fruiting groves of Torreya in Asheville, North Carolina and Highlands, North Carolina (site suggested by Robert Zahner, below). There is also a new posting on the distribution of 2005 T. tax seeds.

  • 7/11/06 / by Bob Zahner / Mature grove of Torreya trees from Florida in Highlands, NC
    The local Torreya trees are on the old Harbison farm about two miles south of Highlands. Prof. Thomas Harbison made Highlands his home off and on from 1880 until he died in the 1930s. He was a field botanical collector for Harvard's Arnold Arboretum and for the herbaria at the University of North Carolina and at Vanderbilt's Biltmore Estate.He could have collected the Torreya seeds from the Florida source at any time about 1910 to 1920. There is no family record as to when the Highlands Torreya were planted, probably from seedlings he grew from seed. (He had a small commercial nursery here.) Harbison built his last house here in 1920, and the Torreya trees are located about 150 feet from the house. He may have planted them before the house was built, but probably not until shortly after. We will probably core one of the trees some day to determine its age.
        Anyway, they are beautiful, healthy trees, flowering and fruiting well every year that I've checked them. There are six trees, three male and three female. The largest stem is 16" in diameter, several are over 13" and two are smaller at about 7" and 8." The two tallest are well over 50 feet in height. The smaller are simply overtopped by the larger, for they all appear to be the same age. There are natural seedlings and saplings in the near vicinity. It appears that squirrels and other rodents consume most seed along with the fruits, but a few escape and germinate. The small Torreya grove is part of a hardwood forest of larger trees.
        You probably know that the largest recorded Florida Torreya is located on a farm near Norlina, NC, listed in the current register of big trees with a huge stem diameter of nearly three and a half feet, but only 53 feet tall. I have a photo of this tree taken in 1939, and even then (67 years ago) it was over two feet in diameter, a beautiful tree.
        I also have the names of several people who have seen the Harbison trees, and are very interested in "re"-establishing Torreya here in the southern Appalachians. Anyhow, rewilding Torreya privately seems to be a good possibility, like the American chestnut projects being done through two private organizations, completely ignored by government agencies.

  • 3/23/06 / by Dee Hope / Seed Production by a T. tax at Coker College, SC
    I worked at a garden in my home state of South Carolina for 7 years called Kalmia Gardens of Coker College. Are you aware that it has a mature Florida torreya, and several seedlings? I just wanted to pass this along in case it was not known. Hopefully, it is still healthy, and can provide seeds. I would welcome an email from interested parties wanting more details on this garden and/or a contact person there.
    email: DAHope@lpagroup.com

  • 3/20/06 / by Lee Barnes / Distribution of 2005 Torreya Seeds harvested at Biltmore Gardens, NC
    I've just now sent out eight emails offering Torreya seeds to Botanical Gardens suggested by Bill Alexander (NC Botanical Gardens, Chapel Hill, NC; Bernheim Arboretum, KY; Dawes Arboretum, OH; Duke Gardens, Durham, NC; JC Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, NC; NC Arboretum, Asheville, NC; Arnold Arboretum, MA; and Arboretum de Villardebelle, FR.). I've requested their response by April 1st. I'm hoping that email requests will be received and acted upon quicker than by US Postal Service. If everyone is interested, this leaves us about 19 seeds for individuals — or two mailings. I'll wait until the 1st week in April to count requests, and then will open to other individuals who have requested seed. My sense is to ID the top interested folks that have facilities to germinate and pot up and grow out larger seedlings. Editor's note: Lee Barnes is the volunteer Torreya Guardian in charge of preparing and distributing T. tax seeds harvested by staff of the Biltmore Gardens, Asheville NC.

  • 2/06 / by Jeff Morris / Further Implications of Rewilding: Frasier Fir and Black Balsam
    My interest in evolutionary ecology has prompted me to successfully propogate warmer climate rare conifers for use in North Carolina. The T. taxifolia is the most recent example, and one that, finally, there are people like yourself who are interested in rewilding. My theory on evolutionary ecology is that with the advent of global warming (which I believe can only be slowed, but not reversed) we will be faced with many "rewilding" and "rezoning" of native plants and trees. I have watched the once great stands of Frasier Firs and Black Balsams in the Pisgah National Forest dwindle down to a fraction of what they once were in North Carolina. Acid rain and other factors that have led to their decline must be dealt with, I will not deny. But I believe that we must replace those dying forests with species that will thrive in the new conditions, even if we must go to other parts of the world to find those species. Otherwise, the hardwoods and scrub pines will devour the once-magnificant stands of old fir forests, and they will exist only in pictures and in cultivation. So far, this theory has not come into the mainstream, and the Torreya Guardian project is the closest I've seen to it.

    What I have found disturbing about the "mainstream" is that they claim that they want an endangered species to be saved from extinction, but then they don't want to even hear about assisted rewilding or adapting similar species from the same genus, but from other parts of the world. It seems that some of the "mainstreamists" would prefer the T. taxifolia to exist only on the back of their postcards seeking contributions for their national organizations' efforts — that one big failure would be preferable to their cause than the new thriving forests that can arise from assisted migration of compatible species.

    Call it "assisted evolution," if you will. If mainstream ecologists prefer to let them die before they'd allow assisted migration, then at what point will the actions of the Torreya Guardians shape the debate in allowing for the survival of other plant and tree species?

  • 10/05 / by Leigh Brooks / Century-old T. tax in Columbus GA
    Great historical info from Bill! I saw a large T. taxifolia in Columbus GA a few years ago in the historic district (photos below). The homes have date placards, and I think it was 1898. The tree had been hit by lightening before I was there and about half of it was dead as a result. The homeowners said that, before that, the tree was fine. It was about a foot dbh. There are supposedly some other old torreyas in this historic neighborhood but this was the only one I found.

        


  • 10/05 / by Rob Nicholson / Arnold Arboretum - T. tax & Taxus floridana
    As I worked at the Arnold 15 years I can attest that there were no plants of Torreya taxifolia in the collection when I started (1977) nor Taxus floridana. Torreya nucifera seems to be the only ironclad Torreya for the Boston area. T. grandis is currently in the outdoors collection but looks beaten after a hard winter. Taxus floridana is grown on the grounds currently but am not sure about Torreya taxifolia. [Note: Arnold Arboretum is associated with Harvard and is near Boston MA]


  • 10/05 / by Bill Alexander / Archival Records at Biltmore Gardens (Asheville NC)
    Biltmore archival records show that Torreya taxifolia was originally brought to the Biltmore in 1896-97 and was growing at the Arnold Arboretum at that time also. In the "Biltmore Nursery Dept. Outgoing Correspondence, Vol. I 1896-1897" there is a letter on p. 219 from C. Beadle to Prof. C. S. Sargent, Arnold Arboretum. Beadle mentions having received from a correspondent of his in Bristol, Florida,
    "a few plants each of Torreya taxifolia and Taxus floridana. I am quite interested to know if this latter species has ever been in cultivation. I know that the Torreya has; indeed, you have it at the Arnold Arboretum. If you have not plants of Taxus floridana, we will be pleased to send you some as soon as our stock is sufficently advanced to warrant the shipment."
    The letter continues with Beadle talking more about exchanging plants. The records indicate (p. 908) that on 4 March 1897 Beadle sends Sargent specimens of Taxus floridana.




       Download in PDF two articles, for and against assisted
       migration of Torreya taxifolia, published as the featured
       Forum in the Winter 2005 issue of Wild Earth. Download
       the pro and con articles separately for printing on standard   
       size paper. Or, for viewing the 2-article Forum as it
       appeared in publication (wide-screen, with all illustrations),
       download the "Forum."
       


  • FOR assisted migration, by Connie Barlow & Paul Martin  
     

  • ANTI assisted migration by Mark Schwartz
     

  • FORUM (both articles for wide screen)
     



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