Middle Eocene - Recent 45mya - 0
Torreya is a genus of conifers comprising six or seven species placed the family Taxaceae, though sometimes formerly placed in Cephalotaxaceae. Four species are native to eastern Asia; the other two are native to North America. They are small to medium-sized evergreen trees reaching 5–20 m, rarely 25 m, tall. Common names include nutmeg yew.
The leaves are spirally arranged on the shoots, but twisted at the base to lie in two flat ranks; they are linear, 2–8 cm long and 3–4 mm broad, hard in texture, with a sharp spine tip.
Torreya can be either monoecious or dioecious; when monoecious, the male and female cones are often on different branches. The male (pollen) cones are 5–8 mm long, grouped in lines along the underside of a shoot. The female (seed) cones are single or grouped two to eight together on a short stem; minute at first, they mature in about 18 months to a drupe-like structure with the single large nut-like seed 2–4 cm long surrounded by a fleshy covering, green to purple at full maturity. In some species, notably the Japanese Torreya nucifera ('kaya'), the seed is edible. Natural dispersal is thought to be aided by squirrels which bury the seeds for a winter food source; any seeds left uneaten are then able to germinate.
The genus is named after the American botanist John Torrey.
- Torreya californica
- †Torreya clarnensis
- Torreya fargesii
- Torreya grandis
- Torreya jackii
- Torreya nucifera
- Torreya taxifolia
Torreya taxifolia (Florida torreya or gopher wood) has a restricted habitat within Torreya State Park, along the east bank of the Apalachicola River in the Florida Panhandle and immediately adjacent southernmost Georgia. Elvy E. Callaway, a lawyer who practiced in Bristol, Florida, during his lifetime claimed it was the "gopher wood" used to build Noah's Ark. It is an endangered species, which has suffered a major decline in numbers due to fungal disease (possibly Phytophthora), and postglacial global warming; however, cultivated specimens are growing very well and regenerating naturally in cooler climates of northern Georgia and western North Carolina. Called "assisted migration", intentional movement of a plant outside of its historical range (though perhaps consistent with its deep-time range) became an important issue in the conservation community in 2007 and 2008, with T. taxifolia being the featured plant.
- Camp, W. H.; Rickett, H. W.; Weatherby, C. A. (1947). "International rules of botanical nomenclature, Appendix III: Nomina Generica Conservanda". Brittonia 6 (1): 1–120 (Section 10, page 47).
- Christenhusz, J. M. M.; Reveal, J. L.; Martin, F. G.; Robert, R. M.; Chase, W. M. (2011). "Linear sequence, classification, synonymy, and bibliography of vascular plants: Lycophytes, ferns, gymnosperms and angiosperms". Phytotaxa 19: 1–134.
- Eckenwalder, J.E. 2009. Conifers of the World: The Complete Reference. Timber Press.
- Manchester, S.R. (1994). "Fruits and Seeds of the Middle Eocene Nut Beds Flora, Clarno Formation, Oregon". Palaeontographica Americana 58: 30–31.
- Fox, Douglas (2007). Conservation 8 (1): 28–34 When worlds collide http://www.conbio.org/cip/article81whe.cfm When worlds collide
|url=missing title (help).
- Nijhuis, Michelle (2008). "Taking Wildness in Hand: Rescuing Species". Orion Magazine 2008 (May/June): 64–78.
- Shirey, P.D. and G.A. Lamberti (2010). "Assisted colonization under the U.S. Endangered Species Act". Conservation Letters 3 (1): 45–52. doi:10.1111/j.1755-263X.2009.00083.x.
- "Assisted Migration (Assisted Colonization, Managed Relocation) and Rewilding of Plants and Animals in an Era of Global Warming". Torreya Guardians.