Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Torreya taxifolia


SPECIES: Torreya taxifolia
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Esser, Lora L. 1993. Torreya taxifolia. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : TORTAX SYNONYMS : Tumion taxifolium (Arn.) Greene SCS PLANT CODE : TOTA COMMON NAMES : Florida torreya stinking cedar Savin gopherwood polecat wood TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of Florida torreya is Torreya taxifolia Arn.; it is a member of the yew family (Taxaceae) [11,17]. There are no recognized subspecies, varieties, or forms [2]. LIFE FORM : Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : Endangered [17] OTHER STATUS : Florida torreya is state-listed as threatened [24].


SPECIES: Torreya taxifolia
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Florida torreya is endemic to three counties in northern Florida (Liberty, Gadsden, and Jackson) and extends 1 mile into Decatur County, Georgia [2,11]. The natural range of this species extends along the limestone bluffs on the eastern bank of the Apalachicola River and its tributaries for a 40-mile (64-km) stretch [14]. There is a small colony of 60 trees approximately 6 miles west of the river at a site known as Dog Pond in Jackson County [2,11]. Florida torreya is not an abundant species, and local occurrence is widely scattered along the Apalachicola River [9,11]. There is a small, introduced population of trees located in Asheville, North Carolina, on the Biltmore Estate [14]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine FRES14 Oak - pine FRES15 Oak - hickory FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress STATES : FL GA NC BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : KO79 Palmetto prairie K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest K112 Southern mixed forest K113 Southern floodplain forest SAF COVER TYPES : 70 Longleaf pine 71 Longleaf pine - scrub oak 73 Southern redcedar 74 Cabbage palmetto 80 Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine 81 Loblolly pine 82 Loblolly pine - hardwood 83 Longleaf pine - slash pine 84 Slash pine 85 Slash pine - hardwood 87 Sweet gum - yellow-poplar 98 Pond pine 111 South Florida slash pine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Florida torreya is associated with oak-tupelo-cypress (Quercus-Nyssa-Cupressus) and oak-pine (Quercus-Pinus) forests on the eastern bank of the Apalachicola River [14]. The longleaf pine/wiregrass (P. palustris/Aristida stricta) sandhill community is upslope from these forests [1,21].


SPECIES: Torreya taxifolia
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : Commercial harvesting of Florida torreya is nonexistant due to scant availablility [11]. The fine-grained yellow wood is, however, highly attractive and of good quality [2]. It is lightweight, hard, strong, and highly durable [14]. The wood was historically used for making cabinets and fenceposts [15]. Fences made of Florida torreya 60 years ago are still sound [2]. Florida torreya was also used for Christmas trees [14]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Various animals eat Florida torreya seeds [14]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : Florida torreya was planted as an ornamental on the Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina [14]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Florida torreya is almost extinct in its natural range [9]. In 1988 the Center for Plant Conservation stated that Florida torreya faces such a serious and immediate threat of extinction that it will be gone in 10 years unless concerted conservation steps are taken [4]. An intricate array of circumstances threatens Florida torreya. The population is reduced because of habitat destruction by inundation and logging and fungal pathogens that kill young trees before they reach sexual maturity [4,21]. Disease: Florida torreya populations are drastically reduced by stem and needle blights [2]. The fungi responsible for these blights have been identified as members of the genera Physalospora and Macrophoma. As many as 11 species of fungi attack Florida torreya [9,13]. How the infection begins is unknown. It may begin with fungi attacking the tree while the fungi are in their sexual reproductive cycle [14]. Sudden exposure to full sunlight following logging of other tree species may stress Florida torreya, leading to susceptibility to fungal invasion [12]. Fungicide: Infected Florida torreya trees treated with the commercial fungicide Maneb recovered markedly and produced new growth with little or no infection [12,14]. Pests: Feral pigs uproot and destroy Florida torreya seedlings [20]. Deer preferrentially select Florida torreya saplings as antler rubbing posts, and sometimes kill saplings while rubbing their antlers [21].


SPECIES: Torreya taxifolia
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Florida torreya is a dioecious native evergreen tree, typically from 30 to 40 feet (9-12 m) tall and 12 to 20 inches (30-50 cm) in diameter [11,14]. The largest living specimen is in North Carolina, and measures about 45 feet (14 m) in height and 35 inches (89 cm) d.b.h. Florida torreya bark is only about 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) thick on mature trees, and is irregularly divided by shallow fissures. The ovules or arils are 1.2 to 1.6 inches (3-4 cm) long. They are fleshy, turning leathery at maturity. The seeds have a woody seed coat [20]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Male Florida torreya bear their microsporophylls within strobili. In contrast, the ovules of female trees are not contained within strobili but are solitary [14]. Male strobili begin growth the year prior to flowering, while female trees develop ovules in one growing season [11,14]. Florida torreya produces male and female cones at the age of 20 [14]. Torreya species are wind pollinated. Seeds mature in 2 years [15]. At Maclay State Gardens, some germination occurred when seeds were placed in rich, damp topsoil. Of 35 seeds planted in wet spaghnum moss, 80 percent germinated. Germination is hypogeal, and seeds require afterripening [14]. Viable seeds are rock hard when ripe. Seeds collected from diseased trees are soft and crumble easily [15]. Because of fungal infection, sexual reproduction has virtually stopped in this species. Infected trees seldom bear reproductive structures. Consequently, few trees can be identified as either male or female [21]. Few seedlings have been found in the wild since the late 1950's [14], and current reproduction is almost solely vegetative [21,22]. Florida torreya sprouts from the roots, bole, and root crown following damage to aboveground portions of the tree [14,15,20,21,22]. Numerous sprouts are produced at the base of the parent tree, although only one sprout usually survives after several years [14]. Basal sprouts grow several feet before succumbing to infection [15]. Florida torreya is propagated with stem cuttings [21]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Florida torreya occurs mainly on steep, deeply shaded limestone slopes, bluffs, and wooded ravines, but is not confined to them [8,9,14]. It also occurs in forest hammocks and on slopes of ravines cutting through sandhills. The population in Jackson County, Florida, occurs on gently rolling hills [8]. Soils are well drained [21], with a pH range from 4.0 to 8.0 [8]. The climate is subtropical, with wet summers and dry winters. The average annual precipitation is 56 inches (1,420 mm), and the average growing season is 270 days [14]. Florida torreya transplants grow on southern aspects of the Appalachian Mountains, suggesting the species is more cold tolerant than its present range indicates [21]. Common overstory associates not listed under Distribution and Occurrence include spruce pine (P. glabra), southern red oak (Quercus falcata), American beech (Fagus grandifolia), magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), American holly (Ilex opaca), Florida maple (Acer barbatum), basswood (Tilia americana var. heterophylla), Florida yew (Taxus floridana), and eastern hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana). Understory associates include poison-ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), greenbriar (Smilax spp.), crossvine (Bignonia capreolata), oak-leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia), grape (Vitis rotundifolia), climbing hydrangea (Decumaria barbara), French mulberry (Callicarpa americana), woodbine (Parthenocissus), yaupon (Ilex vomitoria), blackberry (Rubus spp.), sedges (Carex spp.), panicgrass (Panicum spp.), partridgeberry (Mitchella repens), little sweet Betsy (Trillium cuneatum), cane (Arundinaria gigantea), and American climbing fern (Lygodium palmatum) [8,12,14]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species Florida torreya is shade tolerant and is found in late seral and climax communities [8]. It grows better in full sunlight at Maclay State Gardens than in the dense shade of its natural habitat [14]. Seedlings, however, tolerate the deep shade of pines and hardwoods [14], and are probably more successful competitors on shady sites in their natural habitat [21]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Reproductive structures emerge in March and April [11]. Seeds ripen from August to October and are released from September to November [11,14]. Midsummer aril ripening has been reported for Florida torreya, but is not typical [11]. Needles persist for 3 to 4 years [20].


SPECIES: Torreya taxifolia
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Published research on fire adaptations of Florida torreya is lacking. A related species, California torreya (Torreya californica), sprouts from the roots, root crown, and bole following fire (see FEIS literature summary for Torreya californica). Florida torreya probably also sprouts from the roots, root crown, and bole after fire. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Tree with adventitious-bud root crown/soboliferous species root sucker Geophyte, growing points deep in soil


SPECIES: Torreya taxifolia
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : NO-ENTRY DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Because sprouting from the roots, bole, and root crown are natural methods of regeneration in this species [14,15,20,21,22], Florida torreya probably sprouts from those organs after fire. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Schwartz, a biologist with the Florida Nature Conservancy, suggested that in the past, smoke may have acted as a natural fungicide, suppressing the fungi now infecting Forida torreya. Ground fires resulting from lightning strikes were a constant feature of the region's longleaf pine forests until recently. Smoke drifting from these upland fires settled in the ravines where Florida torreya grew. This may have kept the fungal spore load low. After fire suppression, the spore load may have reached a critical mass, resulting in the present outbreak [21]. In August and October of 1987, 2,670 acres (1,080 ha) of a longleaf pine-slash pine (P. elliottii) forest were burned. Two of the eleven fungal pathogens identified in stricken Florida torreya were suppressed by smoke [13]. The Tall Timbers Research Station in Tallahassee, Florida, is currently researching the effects of smoke on the fungi that infect Florida torreya. The research is as yet unpublished [23].


SPECIES: Torreya taxifolia
REFERENCES : 1. Boyles-Sprenkel, Carolee. 1993. Restoring a "grass-roots" forest. American Forests. 99(5&6): 43-45, 60-61. [21284] 2. Burke, J. G. 1975. Human use of the California nutmeg tree, Torreya calidornica, and other members of the genus. Economic Botany. 29: 127-139. [19267] 3. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 4. Falk, Donald A. 1990. Endangered forest resources in the U.S.: integrated strategies for conservation of rare species and genetic diversity. Forest Ecology and Management. 35(1-2): 91-107. [13035] 5. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998] 6. Gibson, David J. 1992. Vegetation-environment relationships in a southern mixed hardwood forest. Castanea. 57(3): 174-189. [19717] 7. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 77 p. [1384] 8. Kurz, Herman. 1927. A new and remarkable habitat for the endemic Florida yew. Torreya. 27: 90-92. [22192] 9. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1975. Rare and local conifers in the United States. Conservation Research Rep. No. 19. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 25 p. [15691] 10. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 11. Roy, Douglass F. 1974. Torreya Arn. Torreya. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., ed. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agriculture Handbook No. 450. Washington: U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 815-816. [7768] 12. Savage, Thomas. 1983. A Georgia station for Torreya taxifolia Arn. survives. Florida Scientist. 46(1): 62-64. [21755] 13. Self, David; Kelly, Eugene M. 1988. Rare plant monitoring and prescribed burning initiated at the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve (Florida). Restoration & Management Notes. 6(2): 91. [10144] 14. Stalter, Richard. 1990. Torreya taxifolia Arn. Florida torreya. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 601-603. [13420] 15. Toops, Connie. 1981. The `stinking cedar' is in big trouble. American Forests. 87(7): 46-49, 51. [21834] 16. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1982. National list of scientific plant names. Vol. 1. List of plant names. SCS-TP-159. Washington, DC. 416 p. [11573] 17. U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 2016. Endangered Species Program, [Online]. Available: [86564] 18. Woolf, Norma Bennett. 1990. Biotechnologies sow seeds for the future. BioScience. 40(5): 346-348. [11076] 19. Alfieri, S. A., Jr.; Martinez, A. P.; Wehlburg, C. 1967. Stem and needle blight of Florida torreya, Torreya taxifolia Arn. Florida State Horticultural Society. 80: 428-431. [21764] 20. Kral, Robert. 1983. Taxaceae: Torreya taxifolia Arn. SO-R8-. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 28-31 p. [21789] 21. Nicholson, Rob. 1990. Chasing ghosts. Natural History. 12: 8,10-13. [21788] 22. Stalter, Richard; Dial, Steve. 1984. Environmental status of the stinking cedar, Torreya taxifolia. Bartonia. 50: 40-42. [21790] 23. Wade, D. D., pers. com. 24. Wood, Don A., compiler. 1994. Official lists of endangered & potentially endangered fauna and flora in Florida. Tallahassee, FL: Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. 22 p. [24196]