Torreya taxifolia Assisted Migration
Ocoee Watershed, Tennessee
Greasy Creek Rd, Reliance TN, 1,100 foot elevation

CLINT BANCROFT resides on 18.5 acres of sloping woodland not far from Chattanooga TN. The Ocoee drains into the Tennessee River Watershed (see maps below).


  • March 2019: SECOND VIDEO documentation (50 minutes)

       Mid March 2019 Clint Bancroft took Connie Barlow on a tour of his rewilded Torreya plantings in Ocoee Watershed southeast TN. Sections of the March 2015 video have been inserted in order to show the growth achieved in four years. This new VIDEO 33 (50 minutes) offers two key findings, beyond the obvious excellent, disease-free growth.

    (1) No herbivory; the plants are in perfect condition.

    (2) With the help of Jack Johnston, Clint has established a "Torreya Bowl", intended for seed production in a wild setting. Maximizing genetic diversity there is a priority.

  • March 2015: FIRST VIDEO documentation (19 minutes)

       Clint Bancroft shows Connie Barlow the 9 Florida Torreyas he has planted on his 18.5 acres in southeastern Tennessee (plus 2 more in pots).

    At 1,100 ft elevation, and sited under deciduous canopy, all the Torreyas look healthy.

    In closing, Connie gives Clint 40 seeds from the fall 2014 Torreya Guardians' harvest. Clint demonstrates his rodent-proof outdoor shelter for germinating those seeds.

        Access VIDEO 8

    BELOW March 2015: Two deciduous-canopy settings where some of the 9 torreyas were already planted.

       LEFT: Clint demonstrates his rodent-protected box for germinating Torreya seeds in soil outdoors.

    CLINT WRITES (Dec. 2014): "I am trying to establish a preserve of rare SE plants on my TN property. I have no idea of the history of the 11 potted seedlings I already obtained (prior to contact with Torreya Guardians), except in a very general sense.

    My first tree is now about four or five years old and was purchased as a gift to me by a friend in Pensacola, FL (from an unknown nursery in Tallahassee). I was told that first tree is a male. The remaining 10 came from Woodlanders in Aiken, SC, and are about two years old now.

    I have no idea if any of those are seed-grown or rootings, but all are doing well. Woodlanders wasn't sure of the answer to that question, but I believe those ten are all from rootings off the tree in the Aiken Arboretum. I believe that tree is male.  If they are from that one tree I have ten genetic clones. I have one that has two leaders/trunks."

    Reports (Chronological)

    June 2015:

    June 2015 email: "When you visited in March you surmised that my little trees that I set out last summer were resting while they put down a taproot. Apparently they had just not awakened from winter. All of them have put on new lateral growth and even more exciting vertical growth. They are thriving with just ambient rainfall — with the exception of the four I can reach with the hose."

    November 2015:

    Jack gave Clint 150 seeds from the 2015 fall harvest, 91 of which were floaters (which Clint planted separately in order to keep track of any differences in success between floaters and sinkers).

    RESULTS (reported May 2017): "These were seeds from Blairsville given me by Jack Johnston in 2015. I did not record any counts, but as expected, there was a significant difference in germination between floaters and sinkers. The first germination came only 7 months after planting outdoors. That was a pleasant surprise — and the floaters germinated in significantly higher numbers than the sinkers. Interesting! Counterintuitive! Bottom line: Don't give up on your floater seeds."

    June 2016:

    June 18, 2016 email: I have had great success in Greasy Creek! I have not been able to get to the area where I planted a single seed from the initial 50 you gave me (from the fall 2014 harvest) so do not know what it has done. However, between the remaining 49 you gave me, plus the stratified ones Lee Barnes sent me last year, plus the ones Jack Johnston gave me from Blue Ridge last summer, over 40 of the total have sprouted to date. All are in large pots (wire covered) and the bulk of them are from the initial 50 seeds you (Barlow) brought me two years ago.

    The unstratified seeds from Blue Ridge have germinated after being in the pots for only a year or less. It has to all be beginner's luck. Many of the plants are up to 6 inches tall already and look very healthy. So far, there is no lateral growth but I suspect that is normal for the first year.

    September 8, 2016 (email):

    PHOTOS ABOVE LEFT TO RIGHT: (1) Clint's collection of seedlings in pots that he started from seeds; (2) This single small seedling is not only the tiniest of all, but it was the only one to sprout thus far from the seeds he received via Lee Barnes autumn 2015; (3) and (4) Seedlings from the 50 seeds Connie Barlow delivered March 2015 from the fall 2014 harvest by Jack.

    PHOTOS BELOW: All were germinated by Clint onsite from seeds Jack obtains from the fall 2015 Blue Ridge harvest. Clint writes, "These germinated their first summer after just one winter in the ground. All my other seedlings from other seed sources were stratified prior to planting and none germinated the first year.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a significant finding. The embryo is known to still need to mature after fruit fall; and it is well known that many tree seeds will enter quiescence (interrupting embryo maturation) if conditions become unsuitable. Perhaps the fact that Clint put the seeds into soil outdoors very soon after harvest, and if winter conditions were mild (or if frigid cold arrived only in late winter) maturation of the embryo was not interrupted. This would be interesting to explore!

    March 2017 (email from CLINT BANCROFT):

    I had learned of the Lee, Florida nursery and had ordered 7 torreyas from them.  Since they cannot ship to TN, I had them delivered to my home in Pensacola when I was there last week.  Jack also ordered 4 trees and had them sent to my address.  Nice plants!  About 16 inches tall and about 1/2 inch in circumference at the base.  Their seed source is from their "personal orchard," which is derived from trees in Madison, Columbus (GA), and Sumatra, Florida.
        I received 200 seeds from Frank Callahan [Medford OR source, fall 2016 harvest] and have them set out in large, protected pots.

    May 22, 2017 (email from CLINT BANCROFT):

    I am preparing to plant out on my property, the 33 seedlings I have managed to grow from the 50 seeds Connie Barlow gave me [from fall 2014 harvest via Jack Johnston]. As I plant each one on the property, I am labeling it with the source of its seed.

       I believe we have had success rooting SOME of the Columbus GA tree cuttings. They all looked beautiful until late spring of this year, even having put out new growth, then several died suddenly. The remainder seem to still be in good shape. I had kept most of them indoors in heated and unheated rooms, and a few were left outdoors. This week I will be moving the indoor group out into my propagation area.

    I have easily (have not counted) an additional 30 trees sprouted from seeds Jack Johnston gave me from Blairsville.

    None of the 200 seeds from the Medford OR 2016 harvest have germinated thus far.

    I think I have located a Florida source for seed grown Taxus floridana and hope to get some plants this fall. I am on a waiting list with 2 nurseries who anticipate having stock. I currently have 3 unsexed specimens from Woodlanders.

    LEFT: Potted seedlings protected from deer.

    October 2017 (email from CLINT BANCROFT):

    NOTE ON FLORIDA YEW: I just happened to be at my home in Pensacola when the lady from the nursery [in Tallahassee] called to let me know that the trees are in stock. They have to be picked up in person since they do not ship and cannot ship T. floridana across state lines anyway. I have a chance to come on additional T. floridana, also seed grown, from another Florida nursery that is supposed to have some this Fall. Update on the seed-grown Taxus floridana I hoped to get. Jack and I together scored most of the ones that became available (at the nursery in Tallahasse). Jack got 7 plants and I ended up with 19 with the probability of getting another 3. We took several cuttings from each plant immediately as insurance against loss. All of my Taxus floridana plantings will be surrounded by 4ft wire cages to protect from deer.
         I have managed this year to purchase a total of 22 seed-grown Taxus floridana by driving to several different nurseries who all received plants from the same grower in Florida. I am supposed to be getting a few more from another nursery which has not yet received their shipment from this same grower. My total Taxus floridana collection now stands at 27!

    June 2018 (email from CLINT BANCROFT):

    We had a very harsh winter here and I lost a lot of rare plants which were in pots. Chief among those were the 2016 cuttings Jack and I took [from the one remaining mature Torreya taxfolia in Columbus GA]. They were doing very well before the winter but it appears I lost almost all, if not all, of them.
         In contrast, the Highlands cuttings look to be OK. I kept most of them in the house over their first winter. And most of those were in an unheated room. A few I put into a heated space. Most look good, but I have not done a tug test to see if they have rooted.
         The Medford seeds [Fall 2016 harvest from 2 trees in Medford OR] have not yet germinated, but Jack says his have begun coming up. I am planning to go over to his place next week or so.
         A squirrel got into the Highlands seed pot [Clint and Jack collected seeds in the mature grove October 2017] and cleaned it out completely. That was the bulk of that collection. I had planted the sinkers separately and that pot was not gotten into, but so far, no germination. I hope past experiment results with sinkers are repeated since I previously had a higher success rate with floaters than with sinkers.
         The nursery in Tallahassee FL, which had seed-grown Taxus floridana this year, would not sell to me because they are wholesale only. But by traveling all over Florida and Georgia I was able to acquire almost their entire output from their several retailers. I have acquired probably over 30. I heard from one of her retailers that she is not going to grow them again. Something ate 10 of them almost to the ground, but they are alive and coming back nicely. The predator also ate 5 T. taxifolia similarly. Not sure what got them, since I had them all in "protective custody". The enclosure was too small for a deer to get into. Jack thinks it was a groundhog, since they can climb, and I do have a groundhog on the property. I sprinkled mothballs around the survivors and have had no further predation.

    Editor's note: I then asked Clint, "Do you have any suggestions for giving young rooted branchlets more protection than sprouts from seeds in harsh cold?" His answer:

    1. ROOTED BRANCHLETS: In retrospect, the cuttings may have survived if I had packed mulch all around the set of pots containing rooted branchlets.... Jack lost a lot of things in pots too. I lost 4 Elliottia, 5 Ashe magnolias, 7 Chapman's rhododendrons and other less rare things. It was an awful winter.

    2. OUTPLANTED TORREYAS: My outplanted Torreyas [under natural forest canopy] are fine. The ones far from the house are all in 4 ft wire cages as will be the yews. (It has probably gotten too late in the year to outplant the yews now.) I know not to amend soil around outplants very much. So I usually just throw in some of those moisture-holding crystals, since my outplants are far from a spigot. (I have occasionally carried jugs of water to distant outplants when rain is scarce). Also I throw in a good amount of gravel or preferably shale pieces. Jack thinks this makes the site less inviting to tender noses of burrowing critters.

    March 2019 Site Visit

    March 2019 Site Visit by Connie Barlow: I visited Clint March 18 and video-documented the tremendous growth and health of his out-planted Torreyas. I also visited his fenced area of potted seedlings he has been germinating from seed. I captured a lot of video of his results, which you can access at the bottom of this sampling of the photographs:

       CLINT BANCROFT resides on 18.5 acres of sloping woodland not far from Chattanooga TN.

    Torreya plantings here are in the Ocoee River watershed, which drains into the Tennessee River.

    CONNIE BARLOW writes:

    The vigor of the young torreyas beneath this largely deciduous canopy is striking.


    A few weeks before vegetative budbreak, the tip of the main stem (PHOTO ABOVE) is unusual: Both the central apical bud and the 4 lateral buds appear equally ready to burst into new growth.

    Elsewhere in early spring I (Connie Barlow) recall seeing and photo-documenting that the spring budburst is one or the other on the main stem. That is, either the lateral buds on the leader are ready to burst, while the apical remains dormant, or the reverse. But March 2019 at Clint's plantings, all of the leader tip buds are being prepared for an early growth spurt.

    CONCLUSION: This may be ideal habitat for Florida Torreya in this phase of climate.

    Additionally, I have noticed that elsewhere growth occurs only in the spring or, at best, a second growth episode will happen in late summer (or even early autumn). But here, counting the growth episodes on a single older lateral branch (PHOTO BELOW), evidence suggests that this landscape, at this latitude, is capable of inducing even three growth spurts in a single year.

       Observe in all these photos the benefits for this evergreen subcanopy tree of residence beneath a mature deciduous canopy. Leaves even 5 to 7 years old are still photosynthesizing. Early spring as well as late fall may offer the best opportunities for creating and storing photosynthates.

    Then, when the oaks and liriodendrons and other deciduous trees leaf out and the subcanopy is cast into shade, this becomes the time for Torreya to channel its stored photosynthates into new growth.


    ABOVE LEFT: Clint Bancroft with his oldest Torreya planting, March 2019.
    ABOVE RIGHT: "Triplet" leaf buds ready to expand (on same plant), July 2019

    PHOTOS BELOW: Taken by Connie Barlow onsite March 2019:

    ABOVE & BELOW: This oldest planting exhibits extraordinary growth and symmetry.
    Growth appears to be equally vigorous upward and outward.

  • March 2019: SECOND VIDEO documentation (50 minutes)

       Mid March 2019 Clint Bancroft took Connie Barlow on a tour of his rewilded Torreya plantings in Ocoee Watershed southeast TN. Sections of the March 2015 video have been inserted in order to show the growth achieved in four years. This new VIDEO 33 (50 minutes) offers two key findings, beyond the obvious excellent, disease-free growth.

    (1) No herbivory; the plants are in perfect condition.

    (2) With the help of Jack Johnston, Clint has established a "Torreya Bowl", intended for seed production in a wild setting. Maximizing genetic diversity there is a priority.

    April 2019:

    Clint Bancroft proves that rooting the tip cut from a basal leader yields a tree-form Torreya

       April 24 email from Clint Bancroft to Connie Barlow:
    "Look at the new growth on this cutting from Highlands, NC! The cutting is the apical tip from a basal of one of the mature trees."

    ABOVE LEFT by Clint Bancroft is the 24 April 2019 photo of a rooted basal-tip cutting (collected October 2017 at Harbison House, Highlands NC) that displays superb vertical growth.

    ABOVE RIGHT is by Connie Barlow 2006, during a Torreya Guardians site visit to the near-century old Highlands NC Torreya grove. Notice the prolific basal sprouting, of various ages.

    LEARNING: The original cuttings of wild specimens in the Florida panhandle were collected three decades ago (by scientists working for institutions implementing the official recovery plan under the Endangered Species Act) from lateral branches rather than basal tips. Lateral branch cuttings notoriously assume shrubby growth forms. Wild stock was so weak that cutting of basal terminals would not have been appropriate. However, thanks to this report by Clint Bancroft, we now know that when collecting vegetative growth from healthy horticultural plantings in northward states, apical growth of basals are essential for ultimately producing tree forms.

    June and July 2019:

    Herbivory devastation, then recovery!

    JUNE 2019 CLINT WROTE: "... You video-documented the herbivory on my 3-yr-old Torreyas (from Blairsville seeds). Happy to report that even the one(s) that had only a couple of needles left have all established new vertical growth. So that is where this accidental experiment stands at this moment. Of course the recovering survivors are being held in extreme protective custody.

    "And now we have yet another unintended experiment under way. I had an apical cutting of a basal from Highlands NC, about 6 inches tall, that had rooted. This year it put up a 6 inch vertical (no lateral growth, and looked beautiful, obviously happy). SEE PHOTOS IMMEDIATELY ABOVE.

    "I left it sitting on top of my cage, 4 feet off the ground, and damned if something did not eat ALL of the new vertical, and also about 2 inches of the original cutting. PHOTOS BELOW. I suspect it will survive but I have lost a whole year's growth. It will be interesting to see if a chopped off, rooted, apical cutting will establish a new leader."

       JULY 2019 UPDATE
    by Clint Bancroft


    "Regarding my accidental experiment in which a rooted apical cutting had put up a new 6 inch vertical and then all but a few inches of the whole pant was eaten:

    "In just 2 months or so, the eaten-down stump is putting up what appears to be a new vertical leader."

    (See note below by Connie Barlow.)

    Note by Connie Barlow, August 2019:

    I am reading about Coast Redwood basal growth and propagation now. Genus Sequoia and Torreya, ancient members of Cupressaceae Family, have probably survived this long thanks to their ability to produce new stems from basal growth if the original stem fails (or is logged). The term for what we see in the above photo is an axillary bud doing what it evolved to do — produce a new vertical leader. Apparently all single leaves produced on the vertical main stem each carry on their upper side a suppressed axillary bud. For redwoods, each of those buds can become either a vertical leader or a root, depending on whether it senses air or soil when hormones direct it to wake up. Apparently Torreya can do the same, so we can actually obtain more than one vertical clone from each basal sprout we cut from.

    25 SEPTEMBER 2019 UPDATE ON THE RESPROUT OF JULY 2019 ABOVE (email from Clint Bancroft): "I don't have a new picture, but the new vertical died unexplainedly. The plant is under extreme protective custody, so it was not herbivory. Interestingly though, it very quickly put up a new vertical bud on the opposite side of the stem. BACKGROUND: The pot in question is in moderate shade in a cage. It has not been moved in the slightest, since I've not been in TN. I noticed a month or more back that the new bud had died. This past week when home for 2 days I noticed it had resprouted!"

    26 September 2019:

    First Germinations of Seeds Planted from Medford Oregon 2016 harvest

    26 SEPTEMBER 2019 CLINT WROTE: "My own Medford seeds got raided by a rodent and appeared to all be gone, but I just left the pot alone and this year a single seed the rodents missed germinated and is doing well in a cage! Jack apparently had good luck with his Medford seeds and gave me 4 and also 4 to Paul. So I do have Medford in my collection but would really like to have more. [Note: Very few seeds have been produced by the two neighboring trees at Medford since their huge seed production of Fall 2016. See the March 2017 entry noting Clint's receiving 200 Medford seeds.]

    31 DECEMBER 2019 ADDON: "The pot my Medford seeds were in was wire-mesh covered and should've been safe from squirrels. However something dislodged the wire mesh cover and squirrels got into the pot."

    12 NOVEMBER 2019:

    Seeds, Cuttings, and Seedlings Collected in Clinton, NC

    "Mrs. Kennedy allowed us to dig any seedlings we found. There was a total of 10 seedlings, all but one of which appeared to be first year seedlings (photo below). Mrs. Kennedy pointed out a single Torreya that had come up inches from the trunk of a camellia and said I could take it if I could get it out. It was a difficult extraction, but my efforts yielded a 35-inch plant which is at least 8 years old (photo below). It is already in Intensive care. My own oldest tree is about the same height and age. I will plant them close to each other and hope we have a breeding pair. Both should reach reproductive maturity in a few years. None of my other trees will reach this in a decade!
         "There were only 4 suitable cuttings to be had off the main tree but I collected about 16 (hopefully vertical growth) cuttings off 3 of the 4 trees that had come up in the backyard. These are old enough that they might be progeny of the larger tree which was destroyed some years ago."



    CLINT BANCROFT was given permission by the homeowner, Mrs. Kennedy, to dig up any seedlings he found on the lawn near or under the single mature Torreya tree. He dug up 10 seedlings (photo left), which he reports as being first-year seedlings.

    One older tree (middle photo; showing the potted seedling newly arrived at Clint's home in the Ocoee watershed of Tennessee) had been saved from lawn-mowing over the years because it grew right next to the trunk of a Camellia.

    October and December 2019:

    Two miraculous discoveries of RODENT-PLANTED SEEDLINGS (from 2016 Medford OR seeds)

       12 October 2019 email from Clint Bancroft to Connie Barlow:

    PHOTO LEFT: "We have been in a very dry period, so I was carrying water to a dwarf mountain laurel (lower left in photo) that I had planted earlier this year. It is marked with the pink flag. This spot is about halfway down the driveway to the first cabin you come to from the main house.

    Note with amazement (as I did) the seedling Torreya (lower right of photo). I did not plant it.

    I have free-planted only a single seed and that was 3+ years ago down by the creek. It never sprouted. None of my other trees have produced seeds. The last seeds I have had are from Louisiana and they are in pots on a second-floor screened porch of the main house. So it is not one of those.

    Unless a squirrel or other creature carried a Medford seed down there (something did get into the Medford pot by dislodging the wire-mesh cover and cleaned it out except for a single seed it missed and that germinated, still in the pot, earlier this year), I have no explanation for how it got there from the trailer/propagation area, which is a good distance away, if indeed that is what happened. We Orthodox love a good miracle. Could it be a sign?"

    29 December 2019 email from Clint Bancroft to Connie Barlow:

    Behold a SECOND strange and wondrous mystery (3 PHOTOS BELOW). A second miraculous germination without planting. You already know about the previous seedling (PHOTO ABOVE) that came up about 200 feet from the nearest seed source. This second one (PHOTOS BELOW) is about 12 feet from the first one. In the photograph that has a person standing in the background, the vertical stick in the ground is the location of this second miraculous germination and the other is where my friend is standing about 12 ft distant (by a pink flag). Both are easily 200 feet from my propagation area which is the only place seeds could have come from.
         It's interesting that whatever rodent carried them down there placed them within close proximity to each other. I wonder how many more I will find scattered about? These have to be Medford seeds that were pillaged from their pot. And if they are indeed Medford seeds this means it has taken them three years to germinate. They both have come up in a not particularly good location, so I may relocate them The second one that I just found yesterday is actually right in the middle of the path that we had just climbed up. It's miraculous that we didn't trample it, since it was not very noticeable.

    March 2020 / Clint Bancroft / 2017 apical cutting of Highlands basal has developed superb roots


    CLINT BANCROFT writes:

    Here is the apical cutting [just removed from its pot] that put on four laterals last year. [Scroll up to the April 2019 entry to see the photo of this same rooted cutting with its four fresh little laterals.]

    Look at the roots she developed! It currently has a central bud ready to go this spring, but no [second tier of] lateral buds at this time.

    Although I was very pleasantly surprised by the root development,  I don't know if this is typical or exceptional root formation since this is the first rooted cutting I have removed from its rooting pot.

    This is the first cutting-grown Torreya to go into the Bowl. [The "Bowl" is a section of Clint's forest into which diverse genetics of Torreya are being planted with the goal of ultimately producing genetically diverse seeds. Clint's Torreya page has a "March 2019 Site Visit" illustrated section that documents his establishment of this "Torreya Bowl."]
    I will be certain to label it as CUTTING GROWN so that we can learn if a cutting-grown apical will eventually form basal sprouts.


    VISIT THE PROPAGATE WEBPAGE for details on the potting soil mixture in photo:

    Propagate Torreya

    March 2020 / Clint Bancroft / 2019 cuttings of basal stems from Clinton NC show fresh apical growth

    Below are PHOTOS of 3 rooted apical cuttings of basal stems that were collected in Nov. 2019 at Clinton, NC. Some are from the horticulturally planted tall parent tree and others are from large progeny of the parent tree growing onsite. The photos show three examples of such cuttings clearly putting on new vertical growth. And some also show new radial lateral growth. All have been kept indoors in a bright, unheated room since their collection. I will move them outdoors under cages and maintain supplemental watering, as soon as we are past danger of a late freeze.
        All the cuttings pictured are apical tip cuttings. I do have a few cuttings in the works that are non-tip lower sections of basal sprouts, but none of those have put on any new growth, vertical or lateral. I am not surprised. The tip cuttings all had buds ready to go, so it is not surprising that they took off. I think the non-tip sections of basals will put up verticals later, but are putting all their energy into establishing roots first.
        Note: The stems may (probably) have benefited from having the lateral growth trimmed, but that was coincidental. The reason for the trimming was to make the cutting fit under the cloche!


    P.S. Here's an update on the Medford OR cuttings that Connie sent me October 2019: The Medford cuttings were kind of stressed looking when they arrived and I thought their prognosis was guarded. As with any group of freshly collected cuttings, some perished rather quickly. It appears some of the rest have rooted. I have not tugged on them. They still look as good as when they first arrived. But that alone is not proof of root formation. I have had cuttings that still looked fresh after a couple of years under the cloche but which never rooted. They just keep their color for a long time. That explains why Mrs. Kennedy (Clinton, NC) prizes them for Christmas decor!

    June 2020 / Clint Bancroft / Apical basal stem cuttings from Highlands NC prove tree-form success

    Below are photos of 7 successfully rooted apical cuttings of basal stems from the mature grove of seed-producing Florida Torreya trees near Highlands, NC. Clint Bancroft collected apical cuttings from some of the mature tree basals in October 2017. Clint writes of how he protected these cuttings from herbivory: "They were rooted indoors in an unheated room and have never been outside my house. They are currently on a second-floor screened porch, which has no access except from inside the house. I will move them outdoors later this year but they will be in wire cages as secure as can be." In these photos you can see that "they are as I collected them, except they have put on new vertical growth this spring." SIGNIFICANCE: This set of photos offers very strong additional evidence that using apical cuttings from basal stems (rather than cuttings from lateral branches) will assuredly result in tree form growth (rather than everlasting shrubs).

    July 2020 / Clint Bancroft / A 2018 seed from mature Torreya grove in north Louisiana germinates!

       Clint participated in the November 2018 site visit to Briarwood Preserve in northern Louisiana. The preserve donated 3 seeds to Torreya Guardians, which Clint volunteered to germinate and foster.

    Photo left is the first germination.

    Experience suggests that this nearly 2 years for germination is fairly typical for this large-seeded endangered tree.

    As usual, Clint provides very secure protection against rodents, which are both avid seed predators and occasional browsers of new growth.

    July 2020 / Clint Bancroft / Severely stressed transplant from November 2019 site visit to Clinton NC recovers!


    Here is a close-up of a portion of the larger Torreya I had dug from under the evergreen domestic camellia at Mrs. Kennedy's in Clinton, NC (during site visit of November 2019; see Clinton torreya webpage).

    I guesstimated the tree to be about 8 years old. The taproot took a severe beating from its extraction, and there was no soil left on any of its roots.

    After looking very stressed since I got it into intensive care, and after its losing several small branches since collection, it appears to finally be exercising its option to live. I suppose it sacrificed some small branches to help it muster the energy to recover from its trauma.

    EVIDENCE OF RECOVERY: It had apical and lateral buds when collected, but they shrank, got brownish, and did not burst this spring. Just a few days ago one of the laterals has come to life (photo left).

    It looks like this tough Torreya is going to make it. I will not even entertain the notion of outplanting it until fall of 2021.

    • March 2021 / Clint Bancroft / First seedling appears from Fall 2019 Mt. Olive seed harvest; it comes from a seed that was a floater.

    "I kept one pot of Mt. Olive 2019 Torreya seeds on the upstairs screened porch last year and earlier this year brought the pot into a cool room inside the house. Today I noticed a sprout, already about 4 inches tall. None of the pots that were kept outdoors the whole time have shown any sprouts yet.
         ... The reason I had kept that particular pot of seeds in the house, while the rest went outdoors, was to keep a closer watch on its potential activity: the tag on the pot indicates that these seeds were all FLOATERS! You might want to share this, particularly with Joe Facendola, since we have sort of come to think of FLOATERS as duds. That is just not true!! The informal study I did several years ago with FLOATERS vs SINKERS showed better germination percentage of FLOATERS. Percentage germination between the two groups was similar (I did not make a formal count), but the FLOATERS excelled slightly. Bottom line is, don't discard FLOATERS.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: I just did an internal google search on our Torreya Guardians website for the word "floater" and found on our 2009 seeds webpage a note from LEE BARNES stating,

    "Several folks have commented on the need to not let seeds dry out prior to cleaning and stratification. I am concerned that seeds that 'float' may have lower germination due to drying or less stored food, etc. But Dr. Croom noted that he had heard of good germination of 'floater' seeds (personal communications with Maclay Gardens in Tallahasse FL, who indicated 80% germination from floaters). Others suggested soaking seeds for 24 hours after cleaning. I retested my initial 'floaters' that had been stored for several weeks in moist sphagnum moss and found that most were now 'sinkers.' I did have one uncleaned seed that had rolled behind a container and dried for two weeks that audibly 'rattled' inside the woody seed coat. I tried resoaking the seed but it remained a 'floater' after several days of soaking. This suggests to me that as little as two weeks seeds can dry out a seed, so I suggest that all seeds be stored in moist sphagnum immediately upon collection and prior to removing fleshy tissues by cleaning. I am curious if the floating seeds might have aided distribution of a species now primarily found growing along a major river?" [This same contribution by Lee Barnes also appears on our PROPAGATION webpage.]
         As well, Lee contributed a short report on 11 January 2010 of results of 301 seeds donated to us by Biltmore in Fall 2010. He reported 115 were floaters and 186 were sinkers. Also, "We received notice that of the autumn 2009 seed crop from the Biltmore that we distributed, 4 of the seeds distributed to an arboretum in Switzerland germinated in the spring of 2011. Among those, 3 had been floaters and 1 was a sinker."
    BUFORD PRUITT, our torreya planter in Brevard NC, also found success with floaters. He reported:
    "... Those cages also contain 15 seedlings from the 2012 crop of 20 seeds given to me. The 2012 seeds were small, pale floaters — quite unlike the larger, darker, denser 2010 and 2011 seeds. I planted 4 to a 1-gal pot (previous years had 2 per pot) in Florida. By late April, 4 of them had sprouted and were growing vigorously. Shortly after moving from Florida to North Carolina, a flush of 8 sprouted during early June 2013 and another 3 have sprouted since then. That totals 15 sprouted seedlings from the 2012 seeds, or 75% success rate thus far."

    • November 2020 + 2021 / Clint receives seeds from Clinton and Mt Olive NC horticultural seed harvests

    From 2020 harvest, Clint was sent 170 Clinton and 70 Mt Olive seeds.

    From 2021 harvest, Clint was sent 200 Mt Olive seeds.

    • February and March 2022 / Clint Bancroft / Update on Florida Yews

    I have more than a few Florida Yews. In fact, I planted two new ones down near the creek today. At one time I had around 30 but have lost a few to God knows what. Sudden orange death I call it.... The yews that died were on moderate to steep slopes. The ones at "creekside" are away from the creek and on either a slope or atop a mound.

    • April 2022 / Clint Bancroft / Voles have killed several out-planted potted seedlings

    Jack stopped by briefly a few weeks ago and we surveyed the "Torreya Bowl" [a backwoods location where Clint is planting maximal genetic diversity near one another]. I wanted to show him how one of my precious Medford seedlings (one of only 5) had died. We also found that a 5 (or so) year-old seed-grown Blairsville tree was also dead. Jack tugged on the dead Blairsville tree and it came right up, having no roots left and the bark having been chewed off from the ground upward about 7 inches. Thinking about changing the name to the Vole Bowl!! I was sick over the Medford tree. None of the Medford trees have grown quickly compared to trees from some other sources. It has been interesting/puzzling why trees from one source seem to consistently outgrow trees from another source. The trees from Mail Order Natives clearly outgrow all others, with Blairsville being a close second. My biggest tree is, not coincidentally, a Mail Order Natives tree which was purchased as a gift for me by a friend from Native Nurseries in Tallahassee. It is now about my height; short for a man but not bad for a Torreya!! Trees from other sources survive but do not exhibit the same growth rate.
        I should have germination of Highlands and Clinton seeds this summer.

    Note on FLORIDA YEW: I have not had any great problem with my FL Yews. In fact, they seem happy. I have lost 2 (out of about 30) and there was no clear cause for their demise. I did have one to be eaten almost to the ground by I don't know what. The tree was caged and is close to numerous other specimens also in cages. None of the others have been touched. The eaten tree is regrowing.

    June 2022/ Clint Bancroft / Precious Norlina NC cutting of a basal tip has rooted!

       BACKGROUND: December 2021, PAUL CAMIRE photo-documented the NORLINA TREE in North Carolina and took some basal sprout cuttings.

    PHOTO LEFT: May 10, 2022, CLINT BANCROFT sent this photo and reported that it had "rooted" (and thus was on its way to becoming a tree). Clint wrote:

    "I know it is rooted because I tugged on it GENTLY and got resistance. I would not have tried that this early on except, to my delight, it had put on apical and lateral growth.

    "The tiny five buds were present when I received the cutting from Paul, but I really did not expect to see them burst, especially during their first spring.

    "This appears to be the only cutting which is apical. However, they have ALL rooted (by tug test) and most have new growth."

    SIGNIFICANCE: Visit the OFFSPRING section of the main Norlina Tree page, and you will grasp the significance of establishing a 100% clone of this 160-year-old tree, whose descendants now inhabit many states.

    July 2022/ Clint Bancroft / Visits torreya seedling he donated to Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center, Chattanooga TN

       CLINT WRITES: "I went to Reflection Riding Arboretum in Chattanooga today and was able to get someone to show me where they planted the Torreyas I gave them 2 years ago.

    There were 6 trees donated, and they already had one which was still in a one-gallon pot.

    They were only able to locate two of them today, but promise they will locate the remaining trees.

    Both the ones I got to see looked sweetly content. One had a new vertical and also had 2 basal sprouts which were not there when I donated the trees. The second had 4 new lateral branches with no vertical growth so far."

    PHOTO of Clint alongside one of the picture-perfect torreys at the arboretum.

    Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center is near downtown Chattanooga, TN. It is a nonprofit arboretum, botanical garden, nature center, and historical site located at 400 Garden Road, Chattanooga, Tennessee. The facility includes the 317-acre arboretum, 15 miles of trails, live animals indoor and outdoors, and a treehouse.

    September 2022/ Clint Bancroft / Proof that a basal sprout will form on the rooted cutting of the apical tip of a basal stem cut from another torreya

       Email to Connie Barlow 2 September 2022:
    "We have wondered if a rooted apical basal sprout will eventually form its own basal sprouts. This PHOTO shows a basal sprout which has formed on a rooted apical cutting from one the Highlands, NC trees. My tag says it is from a cutting I took there in October 2017."

    LEARNING: Finally, we have confirmation that not only will a rooted cutting of the apical tip of a basal stem grow into a tree-like (rather than shrubby) form. Now we know that it will also grow basals of its own! This assures us that, as with its wild cousin California Torreya, Florida Torreya grown from apical basal cuttings will indeed be capable of manifesting the tree form again and again — no matter what injury may kill the main stem itself. Nobody has tried to guess whether the rootstock itself may endure for perhaps millennia because annual growth rings do not form below the soil. (Even the well-studied Coast Redwood has not had this mystery answered.)

    November 2022/ Clint Bancroft / EXPERIMENT: Can a vertical branchlet cutting from an old rooted lateral produce a tree form?

    An acquaintance in Pensacola FL has a cutting-grown Torreya from Semmes, Alabama (Dodd and Dodd nursery). Last year (2021) his plant, which is a sprawling branch still less than 3 ft long and growing parallel to the ground, put on several vertical sprouts from the trunk (stem). He allowed me to collect most of those sprouts — and they have rooted. So far, it appears one may make a tree form and the others are iffy. When I'm back in Pensacola I will ask him if I can photograph his plant since I left one or two of the verticals on it to see what they will do.

    PHOTOS (Nov 2022) of four of the rooted cuttings:

    ABOVE: Photos 1 and 3 show dominant lateral growth still; not vertical leader growth. But I have ongoing experiments rooting true apical basal cuttings from other trees — and they also look this way for a year or so before sending up leader growth. My thought is that, rather than continuing vertical growth right away, they put on a lateral branch first to maximize light capture. Next spring/summer may tell.

    September 2023 / Clint Bancroft / Good news on the seedling from the Louisiana torreya tree

    I have good news from Greasy Creek. As you know, there was only one seed from the 5 we were gifted from the Dorman torreya collection in Louisiana (November 2018 site visit). I had the good fortune, and awesome responsibility, of being the holder of that single seedling. It is doing well, still in its pot behind an impassable fence wire barrier. This year the tree has put up a basal sprout. I plan to leave it on the parent until next fall and then collect it for rooting. My sense is that it is yet too small for collection this year. This, being the rarest among our collection from various seed sources, will be dealt with very cautiously.


    Editor's note, with above photos: ABOVE LEFT: Clint Bancroft receives several torreya seeds produced by the tallest Florida torreya at the Caroline Dormon Nature Preserve in Louisiana, November 2018. (The tree is immediately behind Clint.)

    ABOVE RIGHT: Clint took this photo nearly five years later (September 2023) of the basal sprout emerging from a young torreya growing from one of those seeds. (It takes 2 winter stratifications before torreya seeds will germinate.) Clint Bancroft is a Torreya Guardian who aims to plant the most genetically diverse population of seedlings in a wild forest setting on his property along Greasy Creek, in the Ocoee watershed of southeastern Tennessee.

    October 2023 / Clint Bancroft / A torreya grown from seed emerges with a triple stem


    Torreya as trinity! Today as I was removing seedlings from their group container to put into individual one-gallon pots, I discovered that one had emerged from a single seed — but had three trunks! Never before has a seed sprouted with more than a single trunk. (The group of seedlings in the container all sprouted from seeds harvested Fall 2021 at Mt. Olive, North Carolina.)


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