2,100 foot elevation
volunteer Torreya caretaker, Jack Johnston
Spring 2012: Seedlings Planted at Tessentee Bottomland PreserveLittle Tennessee Land Trust acquired this 64-acre tract of bottomland and river bluff land at the junction of Tessentee Creek and the Little Tennessee River, near Otto NC, in November of 1999. The land lies at the center of the north-south oriented Little Tennessee valley, which runs from Rabun Gap, Georgia to the town of Franklin, NC.
About the Preserve:
Report of the Torreya planting in the April 2012 Little Tennessee Land Trust newsletter:"On a beautiful spring morning, Boy Scouts from Troop 235 recently helped plant 31 seedlings of Torreya taxifolia at Tessentee Bottomland Preserve, south of Franklin NC. 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 Johnston and Dennis Desmond, of the Little Tennessee River Land Trust. Scout leaders Conda Bradley and Peggy Pyeatt also assisted, as did Land Trust 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."
Spring 2013 report by Jack Johnston:"28 surviving Torreya out of 31 positions (this is with some replanting). The ones with the best light are growing the best and surviving the best."
October 2013: Monitoring the seedlings planted "Orchard" style
Above photos: Jack Johnston checking up on the Tessentee plantings (each protected by a tall wire cage and planted on a slope, to ensure good drainage), 12 October 2013. The seedlings were planted "orchard" style, in full sun, in order to encourage fast growth (and thus speed up the time for this little grove to begin producing seeds). Photos by Connie Barlow
January 2015 report by Jack Johnston:"Torreya in sun are growing best. I'll have to weed eat again and remove a little privet. Tallest tree is about 18 inches tall."
April 2015 photo documentation by Connie Barlow (site visit led by Jack):Notice that in Orchard style planting, it is important to periodically weed-eat the open-field plants growing wild next to the Torreya cages. Jack Johnston with the weed-eater.
August 2016 report by Jack Johnston:"Tessentee plants look better than ever... I trimmed weeds around 29 surviving Torreya seedlings (one died during the winter). The tallest is 3 feet. Those in full sun are doing the best. On the front "row" there is ample cutting material from about 8 plants. These will be the ones that reach maturity first.
"The Tessentee site is a grassy swath in front of the Torreya plants, southern exposure. Torreya nearest the grassy expanse grow fastest. The ones growing towards the back of the planting site get some shade and are slow. This points to the importance of sun for growth. There is no supplemental watering."
May 2017 report by Jack Johnston:"28 survivors"
October 25, 2021 report by Jack Johnston:
"Tessentee Preserve, Otto, NC: Voles killed some Torreyas, which have been replanted. The site is less friendly to voles now that the grass is cut more. The tallest trees are the ones with the most sun and are 8 feet tall. Height of the planting is from 8 feet to 10 inches."
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