Torreya taxifolia
Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee

Near Spring City

Report by private landowner, Chris and Christina Anderson

   Chris and Christina Anderson are actively reforesting 232 acres on the east side of the Cumberland Plateau. The couple have planted some 50,000 native trees (including American Chestnut).

The property is next to Stinging Fork State Park. The Cumberland Trail (under construction) will pass along another boundary. Elevation overall is about 1,200 feet, but with a lot of rugged variation.

Torreya seeds were planted mostly in a 30 acre region entailing a deep ravine. There, the canopy is almost entirely deciduous, except for some old hemlock trees in its depths.

November 2015 - 400 seeds from Torreya Guardians 2015 harvest were free-planted into forested areas.

November 2017 Report: First sprouts!

   Photographs and narrative report by Connie Barlow, who visited Chris Anderson onsite 12 November 2017.
   Her VIDEO report of the site visit will be posted on youtube soon.

Free-planting seeds directly into forested landscapes is best in years when we have plenty of seeds to spare, as in the autumn of 2015 when the Anderson family became a Torreya planter. Planting at depth or under rocks are techniques for minimizing rodent predation. Flagging the planting sites is a helpful, though more expensive, way to ensure that one can keep checking up on the sites. Here, they added a flagging innovation. Whenever an emergent Torreya was seen poking up above the detritus or out from the side of a rock, a second flag was added to mark the seedling.

We began our site visit on the plateau upland. While there are some pine-rcih sections, the canopy is almost entirely deciduous. The inventory of species he has planted include: ADD SPECIES and numbers.

Beginning the 4-wheel drive downhill into the 30 acres of concentrated Torreya plantings, we paused along the edge of the two-track to check out the new seedlings right alongside. Chris had planted some there expressly so that he could easily check up on them whenever he was transiting that part of the property.

When the off-road track ended. We headed down into the ravine on foot.

We stopped only to visit (and photograph) the double-flag sites.

Chris estimated that between 40 and 50 of the planted seeds had emerged as seedlings by this mid-November day. September was when he began spotting them.

   During my [Connie Barlow] site visit as photographer, I got a close look at maybe 20 of the double-flag sites. The PHOTO LEFT is the only seedling that had already suffered herbivore damage. Will it survive?

If this is deer damage, Chris says that placement of a piece of soap alongside could serve as deterrence. If this is rodent or rabbit damage, what is there to do? A light winter snow may expose seedlings to the greatest browsing threat.

Experience indicates that while rock roofs or deep planting both diminish seed predation prior to germination, more than half of the young seedlings will suffer modest or severe herbivore damage upon emergence above ground. Torreya leaves, upon hardening, have needle-sharp tips — which may deter deer but not fully rodents and rabbits. We need to experiment and learn more.

Chris used large flat rocks (abundant on their land) to protect the seeds planted in the above two spots.

The steepest slopes were far down the ravine. Are they too steep for deer to stop and browse on?

The Anderson property is toward the westernmost limit of Eastern Hemlock populations contiguous with the southern Appalachians. An alien insect, the wooly adelgid, decimated hemlocks in the North Carolina mountainous areas almost two decades ago. The sap-sucking pests reached this property just a few years ago, and by then scientists had figured out how to effectively treat hemlock trees one by one. Left photo: Red paint marks the individual trees protected (and by year). In the photo at right, the paint mark is on the opposite side; this is his biggest hemlock tree.


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