Medford Oregon ex-situ locale for seed-producing Florida Torreya

  • VIDEO: Ex-situ seed source in Medford, Oregon
       Florida Torreya Seed Production in Medford, Oregon (2017) is drawn from video footage captured by Connie Barlow on February 3, 2017. Frank Callahan transferred 1,000 seeds from the 2016 autumn harvest of Torreya taxifolia seeds — from two trees he had germinated from seed at an ex-situ planting (Medford, Oregon) some 22+ years earlier. He also shows two shrubby-form trees of Florida Torreya, about 22 years old. Significant discoveries: (a) rooted branchlets will not develop into single-stem trees and (b) Florida Torreya is harmed by sudden exposure to full-intensity sunlight, and even new leaves produced in direct sunlight may never adapt to sun-scald.

    24 minutes - filmed February 2017


    FRANK CALLAHAN of Medford, Oregon offered autumn 2016 to send Torreya Guardians seeds from "an abundant crop on two Torreya taxifolia trees in Medford, Oregon. These are both monoecious trees that are loaded with fruit. Both trees are ca. 20 yrs. old."

    "The seed source of our plants was the US National Arboretum; seeds arrived late fall of 1995 and germinated in our nursery the following year. Some of the plants were taken by the Santa Cruz Arboretum, none of which have done well. Two of the plants were planted at my mother's property in Medford, Oregon and those trees have been heavy seed producers over the last 3 years. The trees are open growing (full sunlight) and are thriving in heavy black clays.

    PHOTOS LEFT: Autumn 2016 seed production on the two "trees" (both initiated as rooted branchlets, so they exhibit shrubby growth) at the home of Frank Callahan's mother. Frank reported that past years' seed crops have been exceptionally viable, so this year's probably is too. He wrote:

    "We have germinated seeds from the trees at my mother's place (100%). The seeds take some time to germinate, due to the fact that at fruit-ripening time the embryo is not mature and may take some months of warm stratification and cool-moist stratification before germination can occur.

    "I usually keep the seeds moist in a sterile medium (vermiculite) for 6 months or more. Adding bottom heat can improve the maturation of the embryo and foster more rapid germination. The two trees at my mother's place have no nearby Torreyas for pollen exchange."

    In an email to Lee Barnes on 9/29/16 Frank wrote: "We are in the Sunset Garden Book as Zone 7, the trees have survived -6 degrees F. in Medford w/o damage. Both of these trees exhibit male and female 'flowers', which is unusual for this taxon."

    EDITOR'S NOTE: A number of Torreya Guardians report similar results during our decade+ of acquiring seeds of Torreya taxifolia from reproductive individuals in the eastern USA.

    Several Torreya Guardians gratefully accepted donations of seeds from Frank's harvest 2016.


       PHOTOS ABOVE AND LEFT: "Two (now multi-stemmed trees) I planted some 20 years ago at Hawthorn Park, Medford OR.

    "These trees are not great seed producers, but they are a bit larger than the two trees at my mother's place.

    "I have found that the trees from cuttings, which these two were, do not exhibit the conical form (as the cuttings came from side branches). To obtain the tree-form, it is necessary to raise them from seed or from terminal growth points."

    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. 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. (See entry below.)

       LEFT: Photo of Frank Callahan with the disk of the once-largest California Torreya in Willits, CA (See map below for location of Willits.) Frank wrote:
    "Here is the data and image of the California torreya. The ruler is the standard 36" (914 mm). The ring count on the disk is 480 years taken at 20' from base.

    "I purchased this disk from Jim Smith, who made ring counts also of the base cut of the dead tree and determined the torreya to be 512 years old. Jim made two radius ring counts at the basal cut which were both calculated at 512 years, so I consider his calculations as correct. "The tree measured ca. 7' in diameter at the base, without any defects and 102' in length with 3 trunks above the 10' length" (pers. comm. Jim Smith).

    "The tree was felled in 1999 as it was dead and the lumber was sold to a furniture maker in the San Francisco Bay area..."

       LEFT: Map of location of Willits, California. Frank explains the background of this once-champion tree (continuation from the above caption):
    "All this data was obtained from Boyd Kline, a longtime friend, who arranged for my purchase of the disk. (The late Boyd Kline was the former owner of Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery, and died several years ago at age 95.)

    "I am certain that this is the same tree reported by Dee Hendrickson on the 8 May 1949 SOC 18326 Herbarium sheet.

    "Last year, I tried to obtain access from several of the large property owners along the Winchuck River, in an attempt to relocate the stump, to no avail. Both owners are cattle/timber people and are not friendly to botanists.

    "To my knowledge, this is the largest and oldest Torreya californica ever reported and from the age statistics consider this a native range extension into Oregon. Unfortunately, Smith took no pictures of the tree as it was felled at the time he bought the disk."

    Frank 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).

    CALIFORNIA TORREYA: Autumn 2016 Frank Callahan told Torreya Guardians:

    "We also have a lot of 1st-year potted Torreya californica at Plant Oregon Nursery. in Talent, Oregon. The seed source is Swanton, California near the train station. Lots of large trees there."
    Note: Torreya Guardian Connie Barlow visited the Swanton CA trees in 2005 and posted a photo-essay of the giant California Trees in the Swanton (Scott's Creek) watershed north of Santa Cruz. Connie comments: "I am thrilled to hear that Frank is involved in ensuring that a nursery in Oregon sells California Torreya — as it has a highly fragmented range in California and would benefit from some "assisted migration" into suitable habitats in Oregon."


    Frank Callahan wrote in September 2016:

    "Torreya taxifolia does well in SW Oregon, producing heavy crops (this year is the best) and dense growth. It, however, is not as vigorous as Torrerya californica. Two large trees of Torrerya nucifera (Asian species) are on the State Capitol Grounds in Sacramento (very orderly arrangement of the leaves."
    PHOTO LEFT: Italio Gardens in Medford, Oregon (541-840-0929). Baldy is the owner, and to his right (center of photo) is a lush Torreya nucifera.

    Both Torreya taxifolia and T. nucifera are growing on the premises along with many other very rare conifers. (This is the former home of Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery.)

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Torreya Guardians aim to plant and "rewild" Florida Torreya into forested landscapes in the eastern USA. We are grateful for ex-situ locales for safeguarding the species (and generating seed) beyond our own region. We recognize that California Torreya may benefit from "assisted migration" northward, too — into the states of Oregon and Washington.

    (text contributed by Frank Callahan)

       "I work at the Southern Oregon University Herbarium, and we have a voucher sheet of Torreya californica located in the flats near the Winchuck River, Curry County, Oregon. It was over 6.6' diameter and 70-80' tall — tree divides into 3 trunks about 10' above the ground. SOC 18326 Herbarium of Dee Hendrickson, No. 116, 8 May 1949, Det. 15 Oct 2013 Frank Callahan.

    Here's how to see the specimen data:

    Google: Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbariums; go to collections and type Torreya californica in the box; Region: U.S.A., State/Prov: OR, County: Curry. Hit Search and a image of the herbarium specimen will come up for viewing (left). The specimen #18,326 SOC Herbarium.

    Collected by Dee Hendrickson, 8 May 1949 with his collection #116. He also includes a Conifer Census on the same sheet with 14 different conifers listed in this region just north of the California border; this is the highest conifer count anywhere on the Pacific Coastal Forests.

    I have not been to the actual site, which is on private property and converted to pasture. I was told by one of the locals that the tree was cut down in the 1960s, as it was declining. Several locals obtained disks from the tree. I bought a disk from one of these folks; it was taken some 14' above the base and by ring count was 480 years old. I suspect the tree exceeded 500 years of age.

    I also have a ring count from the ex-champion tree from Santa Cruz, it was over 200 years old or half the age of the Oregon tree. It rivals, in age, an old tree that was cut east of Ft. Bragg."


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