Field Testing of Climate Endangered Florida Torreya
"Assisted migration" to Michigan
How far north can this conifer survive in advance of rapid climate change?

   BACKGROUND: At least since the last glaciation of the Pleistocene, the two U.S. species of genus Torreya have been found only in California and along the Apalachicola River of the Florida panhandle. Nonetheless it is postulated that the Apalachicola species of Torreya (T. taxifolia) would have been native to the southern Appalachians and possibly further north during previous interglacials and warm epochs of the Cenozoic.

Torreya Guardians began moving Torreya taxifolia into regrowth forests on private land in NORTH CAROLINA in 2008. Soon thereafter, the effort expanded into field tests in OHIO. In 2014, seeds were planted in two regrowth forests in MICHIGAN. The aim is to ascertain just how far north Torreya can survive (possibly thrive) in today's climate, in expectation that conditions will continue to warm in the decades ahead. There is value in establishing "left-behind" tree species as far north as possible to ensure viability later in this century.

Note how the MAP LEFT shows the Great Lakes creating a diverse patterning of "plant zones" for testing Torreya in the state of Michigan (USDA 2012). Thus far, our plantings in Ludington and Traverse City are Zone 6a; Alpena is 5b.

  • LUDINGTON, MI: In September 2014, Connie Barlow free-planted 30 T. taxifolia seeds from the 2013 harvest directly into the soil of regrowth forest (oak-maple-beech canopy, with some intermixed hemlock) near the Lake Michigan shore of the lower peninsula (property of Dave and Chrissy Hall).

  • TRAVERSE CITY, MI: In June 2015, property owner Andrew Hogarth and Connie Barlow free-planted 100 T. taxifolia seeds from the 2014 harvest directly into the soil of regrowth forest west of Traverse City (barely plant zone 6a). Canopy was largely red oak and sugar maple, with some hop hornbeam as subcanopy.)

  • ALPENA, MI: In spring of 2014 Halsey Barlow planted 40 seeds on the property of her parents (Bill and Peggy Barlow) along the Lake Huron shore (barely zone 5b). Provenance of seeds: 4 from 2012 harvest, 34 from 2013 harvest, 2 from Mt Olive NC tree 2013, 2 from Clinton NC tree 2013, 2 (underripe/sticky) from Spencer NC.

    Note: Additional reports will be filed if/when the seeds germinate.

    30-Minute Video of 2014 Seed Planting in Ludington

       "Assisted migration" in a time of rapid climate change has begun for the endangered conifer, Torreya taxifolia. This is the first video of a controversial form of climate activism, filmed in 2014 when Connie Barlow planted 30 seeds in a wild, regrowth forest near Ludington Michigan in the Great Lakes region of North America.

    Consensus is growing that, of all trees native to the USA, "Florida" Torreya (an evergreen conifer related to yew trees) is the most in need of immediate assistance in moving north. Connie, founder of Torreya Guardians, warns that, "So long as fossil fuel burning continues to add enormous increments of carbon-dioxide to the atmosphere, we will soon enter an era in which even common species of trees will require our assistance in migrating toward the poles."


    ABOVE: images from 2014 youtube video of Ludington seed planting. Right foreground shows the triangle of fallen white birch logs that Connie used to mark individual seed plantings.

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