Florida Torreya to Greensboro, NC

Private landowner: Nelson and Elaine Stover
Elevation: approx. 1,000 ft

  • SITE DESCRIPTION: The Stovers own 5 acres of upland deciduous forested property (including tuliptree and beech trees) on a gentle north-facing slope off of Western Trail, which is across I-73 near the Piedmont Triad International Airport. A tornado knocked down many trees in 2008, so some seeds have been planted in that zone to access more direct sunlight. Most of the seeds were planted near the posted signs of the "Universe Story Walk" (inspired by the works of Miriam MacGillis and Thomas Berry). The 20 signed markers are spaced at 100-foot intervals along a half-mile trail through a wooded area; these represent major events during the full history of the Universe.

  • SEED HISTORY: The Stovers received 30 seeds from the main Torreya Guardians harvest in 2013 autumn + 10 or 15 seeds from the small (2013 harvest) from A.J. Bullard's property in Mt. Olive NC. From the autumn 2015 Torreya Guardians harvest, an additional 20 seeds were planted in the same area. All seeds from the autumn 2013 and 2015 harvests by Torreya Guardians were "free-planted" directly into the soil of their regrowth forest

    The PHOTO BELOW LEFT is the first photo-documented success of a "free-planted" seed.

    The PHOTO SEQUENCE ABOVE (L to R) is of the same germinated seed, at Marker 4 ("Supernova")

    Nov 2015   •   May 2016   •   Nov 2016

    Notice that in November, the leafy growth is all fully mature and dark green. In May the light green color signifies new growth. So the first horizontal branches appeared right after the first winter following germination.

    But by November 2016, one of those branches had been nibbled off halfway. That photo at far right does indicate a short vertical growth emanating from the top of the 3 branches that has fully greened since emerging, presumably during the summer. This pattern of growth is consistent with what we have documented elsewhere: by its second year, the plant seems to have 2 growth spurts annually if it is not too shady. There is a spurt in the spring and another in the summer. The growth alternates between sending up a vertical stem v. sprouting 3 (and later, 4 to 6) branches laterally out of its top (terminal bud).

    Ongoing Results

    Chronologically from most recent

    NOV 2017: Of the 30 seeds planted in November 2013, 22 had become little seedlings within these first four years. Notably, 4 of those seedlings emerged only late in the fourth year. Twenty more seeds were planted November 2015; the first 7 of which appeared as seedlings between spring and summer of 2017. All seeds had been "free-planted" directly into the soil of the Stover's regrowth hardwood forest, with no overlying rock or wire protection.
        In addition to substantial success in seeds escaping rodent predation underground, even seedlings that experienced substantial above-ground herbivory (whether by rodents, rabbits, or deer) have demonstrated superb capacity to regenerate — both by budding along the original stem and by sending up a basal sprout from just beneath the ground surface. (See pages 8 and 25 of the 2017 pdf report for photos of post-herbivory re-growth. Note that the seedling at Marker 3, which had been declared "no recovery" from herbivory in the Nov 2016 report, demonstrated remarkable recovery in the 2017 report.)

    • Access the 35-page photo-rich report compiling November 2017 results in PDF.

    NOV 2016: Nelson and Elaine Stover revisited all the planting sites. None of the 20 seeds planted from the autumn 2015 seed stock are yet visible above ground. But 10 of the 30 seeds of the 2013 harvest had visible sprouts (a germination rate of 1 in 3). During this audit, a grid was placed behind each seedling to show its size in photos. The boxes on the grid are 2 inches wide and 3 inches tall. This November 2016 report (in pdf) includes photos from November 2013 (initial planting), May 2016, and November 2016. Some notes about specific disturbances to particular sites are also noted where applicable. In each of the original (2013) planting photos, Elaine Stover is holding a small trowel to point to the exact location of the planted seed.

    Details by Numerical ID marker

    #3 appeared Nov 2015; all leaves nibbled away by May 2016 (no recovery later)
    #4 appeared Nov 2015; good health through Nov 2016
    #5 new in Nov 2016
    #6 new in Nov 2016
    #14.25 new in Nov 2016
    #14.75 new in Nov 2016
    Final marker (Ecozoic) new in Nov 2016
    Valley North group of 5 = 2 seedlings May 2016; 3 total by Nov 2016
    Valley South group of 5 = 1 seedling new Nov 2015; almost entirely eaten May 2016; apparently dead Nov 2016

    TOTAL GERMINATION as of Nov 2016 = 11 of 30
    TOTAL SURVIVAL as of Nov 2016 = 9 of 30

       Left: The 3 seedlings visible in the Valley North locale as of November 2016.

    Notice that the seedling pictured upper left obviously had 3 growth spurts (vertical, then lateral, then vertical), so it would have germinated in 2015.

    The other two seedlings are more difficult to read as to growth spurts.

    Note: The boxes on the grid are 2 inches wide by 3 inches tall.

    * * * * *

    "Free-planting" refers to planting seeds directly into woodland soil (rather than starting them in protected pots or seed beds). The greatest challenges to free-planting are (a) seeds may be dug up and eaten by rodents, and (b) the young seedlings may be partially or entirely nibbled by deer and rabbits.

    At least 1 (possibly 2) of the Greensboro germinated seedlings were killed by leaf herbivory within a year of germination.

    MAY 2016: Nelson Stover and Michael Dowd conducted an in-depth examination of all planting locations. Three documentable plants were photographed — these are included in the May 2016 report, submitted by Nelson Stover (in pdf). The following day, in brighter sunlight, Nelson returned to the two sites in the valley. There he discovered the nubs of the three remaining plants (that had been noted the previous fall). It appears that the leaves of these three plants were eaten during the winter by deer or other small animals which are prevalent in the woods. Thus no new germination had occurred yet that spring, nor over the winter.

    NOV 2015: Nelson Stover reported that 6 of the initial 30 seeds planted from the 2013 seed stock were visible as small seedlings above ground.

  • VIEW the November 2016 Report in pdf, submitted by Nelson Stover.

  • VIEW the May 2017 Report in pdf, submitted by Nelson Stover.

  • VIEW the November 2017 Report in pdf, submitted by Nelson Stover.

    WWW www.TorreyaGuardians.org

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