Torreya State Park, FL
  Nov 07, 2006 09:08 PST 


Hello all. I visited Torreya State Park in Northwestern Florida
this weekend, what a special place. The Park contains about 4000 Acres
along the Appalachicola River. 

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Tulip Poplar
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Sweet Gum
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Bald Cypress
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Mockernut Hickory
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Shellbark Hickory
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Swamp Chestnut Oak
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Florida Maple
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Loblolly Pine

Saw numerous Big Trees there, the largest
was a 14'6" CBH Tulip Poplar, 12'3" CBH Sweetgum, Baldcypress 11'6" CBH,
Mockernut Hickory 10'2" CBH, Shellbark Hickory 8'6" CBH, Swamp Chestnut
Oak 9'6" CBH, Loblolly Pine 9'6" CBH, Florida Maple 7' CBH, and last but
not least several 

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Torreya Taxifolia trees the largest We saw was about
15" tall. 

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Smaller Toreyya taxifolia showing leaf detail.

The Big Trees were all 90' to over 100' in height. I will have
to go back and Laser these trees to get exact heights. Ed, I will send
you some photos, will you post them on the web. 


Re: Southeastern Trees   Jess Riddle
  Nov 08, 2006 15:18 PST 

Hello Larry,

Thanks for the trip report. It's nice to have some reports coming in
from the deep south. I haven't seen much shellbark history, and was
wondering how you separated that species from water hickory. That
Florida maple looks great.

Re:Torreya State Park, FL   Edward Frank
  Nov 08, 2006 17:58 PST 

Larry sent to me a photo of a Torreya taxofolia and I posted it on the website along with his report. He noted it is the world's most ndangered conifer. In researching the State park and the tree I found this website for the Torreya Guardians

The website describes the situation as follows:

In the 1950s, Torreya taxifolia suffered a catastrophic decline, the ultimate cause of which is still unexplained. By the mid-1960s, no large adult specimens - which once measured more than a meter in circumference and perhaps 20 meters tall - remained in the wild, felled by what seemed to be a variety of fungal pathogens.

Today, the wild population persists as mere stump sprouts, along the Apalachicola River of the Florida panhandle, cyclically dying back at the sapling stage, such that seeds are rarely, if ever, produced. T. tax thus joins American chestnut in maintaining only a juvenile and diminishing presence in its current range.

Torreya expert Mark Schwartz observes:

"There are probably fewer than 1000 individuals extant in the current distribution and the numbers are dwindling. At last count, there is a single known individual that is producing seeds in the wild (personal observation). Aside from this one individual and the approximately 8 seeds it has produced, there has been no observed seedling recruitment for at least 20, and probably 40 years."

The situation highly parallels that of the American Chestnut and efforts to save it from extinction. To a lesser degree it is also similar to the situation confronting the Hemlock. Please check out the website and see what they are trying to accomplish.

As for Torreya State Park, there are a acouple of links that gives some information about the park and the background of the area:

Torreya State Park, Florida State Parks website, Main page


"The park is named for a species of rare Torreya tree that occurs only on the bluffs along the Apalachicola River. This once plentiful tree was nearly destroyed by disease in the early 1960s and may be doomed to extinction. Other rare plants found in the park include the Florida yew tree and the U.S. Champion winged elm. The forests of the park include river swamps, hardwood hammocks and high pinelands. Each community contains a different set of trees, shrubs and wildflowers which offer variety during each season of the year. The bluffs and ravines are forested by many hardwood trees that commonly occur in the Appalachian Mountains of Georgia. These hardwoods provide the finest display of fall color found in Florida."


Torreya State Park Trails

Edward Frank

Re:Torreya State Park, FL
  Nov 09, 2006 04:34 PST 

I know where there are two Torreyas growing in a Pennsylvania garden. They were collected in the 1920's by an early Botanist. I hope to photograph and measure them this winter. Talk about an instant state champion! The trees are both about 20-30 feet tall. After reading the info below, it kind of sounds like another Franklinia story.

Re: Southeastern Trees   Edward Frank
  Nov 09, 2006 18:37 PST 


When you go back to the park, please try to get some close-up photos of bark
and needles from the Torreya taxifolia trees. Photos and good measurements
would be particularly worthwhile considering the endangered nature of the
tree. Is there anyplace like a visitor center or similar that might have a
cross section of one of the larger examples of the species before its
decline? I would like to get some idea of the age some of the larger
specimens once reached. Maybe the Torreya Guardians might have some older
images of the larger trees.

Ed Frank