Videos on the Torreya Guardians Website

Educational VIDEO series to document the citizen science projects of the all-volunteer Torreya Guardians in human-assisted migration of America's most endangered conifer tree, Florida Torreya (Torreya taxifolia), northward in this time of rapid climate change.

Note: Videos are numbered and listed in order of posting (oldest to newest).

SUGGESTION FOR NEWCOMERS: Scroll down to VIDEO 21 for an excellent 16-minute overview by Lee Barnes. For a lot more detail, begin with VIDEO 01.



   01: Helping Plants Move North in Anthropocene Climate: Torreya Guardians 2013 Report

Climate is warming too fast for large-seeded plant species to migrate north via the animal partners (e.g., squirrels) that have dependably dispersed seeds for millions of years. In 2008, a group of citizen-naturalists (Torreya Guardians) legally planted 31 seedlings of the endangered Florida conifer Torreya taxifolia within private forests in the mountains of North Carolina. Connie Barlow reports their learnings during the first five years.

75 minutes - published November 7, 2013


   02: Climate Endangered Florida Tree Moved to Michigan: Torreya taxifolia

Consensus is growing that, of all trees native to the USA, "Florida" Torreya (an evergreen conifer related to yew trees) is the most in need of immediate assistance in moving north, as it was "left behind" in a peak glacial refugium since the end of the last ice advance. Given adequate seed stock, Connie Barlow decided it was crucial to discover just how far north in today's climate Torreya can grow. Here she documents an experiment.

29 minutes - published September 26, 2014


   03: Torreya taxifolia assisted migration to Cleveland Ohio - 2014 report

Fred Bess reports on 5 young Torreya trees planted at his home south of Cleveland, Ohio. Significant findings: (1) All 5 survived the -17F degrees polar vortex of January 2014. (2) Although deer do not eat Torreya, bucks scrape antlers on the stiff branches of juvenile plants, causing injury. Thus any Torreya planted in areas overpopulated with deer must protect young trees during autumn.

9 minutes - published April 11, 2014


   04: Florida Torreya in Ohio's Secrest Arboretum: 2014 report

Fred Bess and Connie Barlow interview Secrest Arboretum's Paul Snyder re the successful germination of seeds from the 2011 seed harvest of Torreya Guardians. They discuss germination time, growth characteristics, preventing tree injury by overpopulated deer, and ultimately where in the arboretum the young trees will be planted.

11 minutes - published October 7, 2014


   05: Torreya Trees at Shoal Sanctuary FL: pt 01 Four Torreyas on Sandy Uplands

Chris Larson of Shoal Sanctuary, Florida, shows the four Torreya trees thriving since their planting in 2001. Of note: (1) only one tree has grown reproductive structures (male); (2) one survived a severe burn amid the longleaf pines; (3) all are thriving in nearly full sunlight on sandy soils; (4) agricultural lime is applied only rarely (when the evergreen leaves show yellowing); and (5) all four specimens are watered twice weekly.

10 minutes - published February 17, 2015


   06: Torreya Trees at Shoal Sanctuary FL: pt 02 Grotto Ravine (preparing to plant seeds)

Connie Barlow identifies sites for 18 seeds of Torreya taxifolia to be planted in the moist, cool habitat of Grotto Ravine, within Shoal Sanctuary, Florida. Connie walks with camera through the ravine, speaking about why this spring-fed sandstone ravine in the Florida panhandle might be the best place for Florida Torreya to make a last stand in its home state.

    28 minutes - published February 21, 2015


   07: Ancient Florida Torreya in Columbus Georgia

While visiting the famous sole remaining Torreya taxifolia in Columbus, Georgia, Connie Barlow was struck by its location right along a free-flowing section of the Chattahoochee River. The Chattahoochee is the main conduit between the peak-glacial plant refuge in n. Florida (along the Apalachicola River) and the southwestern Appalachian Mountains, where it would have lived in warmer times. "Might this ancient Torreya actually have been growing as a wild, native tree when the early white settlers built their first homes there?" asks Connie. And might Torreya seeds have used the river to quickly migrate south downstream, but had only squirrels for help in moving back north?  24 minutes - published February 26, 2015


   08: FL Torreya to Ocoee Watershed 1: Greasy Creek, TN 2015

Clint Bancroft shows Connie Barlow the 9 Florida Torreyas he has planted on his 18 acres in southeastern Tennessee (plus 2 more in pots). At 1,100 ft elevation, and in a mixed deciduous/conifer forest, 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.

    19 minutes - published March 27, 2015


   09: FL Torreya to Ocoee Watershed 2: Wolf Creek, NC 2015

Thomas Mesko receives 43 Torreya taxifolia seeds from Connie Barlow, drawn from the 2014 harvest of Torreya Guardians. This video documents seeds being planted generally on north-facing slopes, between 1,600 and 1,800 feet elevation on Thomas's 50 acres of forested property along Wolf Creek, in the North Carolina section of the Ocoee Watershed.

    13 minutes - published March 29, 2015


   10A: FL Torreya to North Carolina (pt 1): 2015 report (Waynesville, NC)

First video-documentation of fate of historic 2008 rewilding action of the endangered Torreya taxifolia from Florida to North Carolina. Connie Barlow films and narrates a survey of the 21 plants in wild forest on the slope of Eaglenest Mountain, near Waynesville. Most important results are both positive and negative, which help us ascertain the habitat preferences of this species (moisture, shade, slope, aspect).

    54 minutes - published April 9, 2015


   10B: FL Torreya to North Carolina (pt 2): 2015 report (Junaluska, NC)

Second half of video series above. Key findings: (1) Counting vegetative buds at the tips of branches misleads, as older plants sprout branchlets on older regions of branches, too. (2) Don't plant near rhododendrons that will encroach on our plants. (3) Seedlings too long in the pot (rootbound) are inferior specimens for assessing Torreya's ability to thrive in wild settings, as their roots cannot support the tree unwatered; thus the main stem may die while growth is directed to a basal sprout. (4) Full sun may be stressful for Torreya outside of watered areas, but because potted seedlings have a full-sun growth form, the plant will need to reorient branching to a horizontal, yewlike form when under a deciduous canopy in wild settings.  45 minutes - published June 7, 2015


   11: FL Torreya to Highlands NC: 90 years of de facto rewilding (2015)

"Assisted migration" for climate-endangered Florida Torreya inadvertently began 90 years ago, when botanist Thomas Grant Harbison planted this conifer species on his mountainside land in Highlands, NC. April 2015, Torreya Guardians documented this gone-wild grove — likely, the best and oldest example of how this ancient native lineage grows beneath a deciduous canopy and its slow dispersal by squirrels. Connie Barlow narrates with camera; Jack Johnston explores and measures the Torreya grove and surrounding plants.

    28 minutes - published April 19, 2015


   12: FL Torreya to Franklin, North Carolina: 2015 progress report

North Carolina was the destination of Torreya Guardians 2008 "rewilding" of Florida Torreya to its presumed ancestral home in pre-glacial warm times. Russ Regnery leads Connie Barlow on a tour of his young torreya trees 7 years later. Topics of discussion include (1) the advantage of sun-shading screen during the early years if Torreya is planted out in the open, (2) how Torreya is vulnerable to winter sun and wind scalding/dessication if not protected by a canopy, (3) the advantages of planting near nurse trees for shading and for sharing their symbiotic root fungi. "Free-planting" seeds from the 2014 seed harvest directly beneath the forest canopy is the final half of the video.     32 minutes - filmed April 29, 2015


   13: Florida Torreya to Ohio's Dawes Arboretum

Dawes Arboretum (Newark, Ohio) received ten seeds from Torreya Guardians from the 2006 harvest by Biltmore Gardens (Asheville, NC). Possible learnings are: (1) A full deciduous canopy of oak and maple seems to be superb habitat for Torreya in central Ohio. (2) Exposure to full sun and especially to polar winds seem to be very stressful to this genus. Video also compares Florida Torreya's leaf and branch morphology against two sister species native to Asia that have been planted in Dawes Arboretum: Torreya grandis (China) and Torreya nucifera (Japan).

23 minutes - filmed May 17, 2015

   13b: Florida Torreya to Ohio's Dawes Arboretum (pt b) 2016

Documents superb annual growth on the two Florida Torreya specimens beneath a full deciduous canopy (and protected from winter winds by a border of evergreen conifers). Confirms 1-month difference in vegetational budburst bt the Florida Torreya (May budburst) and adjacent Chinese Torreya (June budburst). Speculation on the importance of nearby maple helping the Torreyas by shared fungal root symbionts.

17 minutes - filmed June 18, 2016


   14: Free-Planting Torreya Seeds into Wild Forest: 2015 report of best practices

First video of best practices discovered by Torreya Guardians in attempting to plant seeds directly into the soil of wild forest in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Preliminary results confirm that both methods (planting beneath heavy, flat rocks and planting beneath a thatch of branches) were 100% effective in deterring squirrels. However, the results are mixed for voles. This video chronicles Connie's visit to the site 17 months after planting. Here she locates and upends the flat rocks to look for signs of germination, intact but non-germinating seeds, and tunneling by voles resulting in seed loss.

47 minutes - filmed April 24, 2015


   15a: Rewilding Florida Torreya to Cullowhee, NC - 2015 report

This wild forest site on Jim Thomson's property east of Cullowhee is the first location where Torreya Guardians have had access to a north-facing mountain slope. Here they will learn whether Florida Torreya thrives in this particular habitat of the southern Appalachians. Elevation 2,600 feet. Connie Barlow films and narrates this field survey, led by Jim Thomson. Here they observe the 4 Torreya taxifolia seedlings that Jim planted 18 months earlier from their pots. The original big-needled leaves are seen here to be dying back, but healthy shorter needles are the growth form that this cool, shady location seems to call forth.

17 minutes - filmed April 26, 2015


   15b: Germinating Torreya Seeds: 2015 report

Jim Thomson, Lee Barnes, and Connie Barlow discuss what we all have learned thus far about how to germinate Florida Torreya seeds outdoors, in locales far north of the "historically native range" of this endangered conifer species. A lot is still unknown. But we do know that seeds harvested from the same mother tree in the same year will span a number of years to germinate, even when planted under the same conditions. The final 5 minutes of the video are of Connie late June 2015, showing the varied germination rates of 4 seeds she is watching closely in a rodent-protected container in Ludington Michigan.

13 minutes - filmed April 27, 2015


   16: Planting Florida Torreya Seeds in SW OHIO - assisted migration

This wild forest site on Bob Miller's property NE of Cincinnati Ohio is rich in diverse habitats, notably a deep ravine in glacial till down to the limestone bedrock. This is the first video in which current species range maps are overlaid on sections depicting native trees onsite. A total of 56 seeds planted (seeds from the 2014 harvests).

33 minutes - filmed May 20, 2015


   17: Site Visits to Florida's Endangered Torreya and Yew Trees

Connie Barlow presents 15 years of baseline photos and videos she recorded of Torreya taxifolia and Taxus floridana in their historically native range in Torreya State Park in northern Florida. Photos of spectacular California Torreya trees, recorded by Barlow in 2005, show the potential for Florida Torreya recovery efforts to strive for. Fred Bess shows (in 2014 video) 2 Asian conifers (Cephalotaxus and Cunninghamia) used in landscaping that are Torreya look-alikes. Paleoecological evidence that Florida's Torreya was "left behind" in its peak glacial refuge supports "assisted migration" actions.

63 minutes - assembled & published, January 2016


   18: Florida Torreya Grove at Biltmore Gardens NC: 75 years old

In 1939 Chauncey Beadle supplied the Biltmore Estate with a dozen Torreya taxifolia seeds or specimens collected in Florida — prior to any understanding of climate change and endangered species. Now this 75-year-old grove and its offspring are precious for securing the wellbeing of the species and for demonstrating that (with little human help) North Carolina is an ideal habitat for escaping the native diseases of a now too-warm Florida. Connie Barlow narrates photos and videos she captured on site visits to the Biltmore: February 2004, August 2006, and April 2015.

1 hour - assembled and posted March 15, 2016


   19a: Florida Torreya to Brevard NC: 2016 Report

Buford Pruitt leads Connie Barlow on a video tour of his 17 Torreya taxifolia caged seedlings, planted in partial sun offered by his homesite edges in a regrowth forest near Brevard NC. Significant findings: Watch an "autopsy" of the one plant that died during the winter, and see evidence rodent predation of roots and lower bark. Learn how to assess plant vigor and important measurements to record. Notice the "basal sprouts" and why they should never be pruned back. Buford's trees are all from 2010, 2011, and 2012 Torreya Guardians seed harvests.

45 minutes - filmed 25 May 2016


   19b: Florida Torreya to Brevard NC: 2016 Report

The last half of Buford Pruitt's tour of his 16 still-living caged seedlings. Three apparently are planted on the compacted soil of an old logging road, and are struggling. Connie steers a discussion of the overall forest health: Why is there so little greenery on the forest floor? Pieced in are video segments of the lush greenery surrounding the original torreya plantings at the Waynesville site, 700 feet higher in elevation and on a far steeper (never cattle-grazed?) slope. Overall, this 2-part series is a superb video for all new Torreya Guardians to watch — in order to help them assess their own properties for where best to plant seedlings.

35 minutes - filmed 25 May 2016


   20a: Root-eating rodents kill endangered Florida Torreya at Junaluska NC

Of the 5 remaining Torreyas planted in 2008 at the lower end of the garden, 2 were killed by rodents eating the tree roots overwinter 2015/16 and another is gravely injured in the same way. Both of the uninjured young trees are being dangerously encroached upon by rapidly expanding rhododendron patches. Connie Barlow narrates, with assistance by Michael Dowd. Note: This is a 2016 follow-up to 10b video filmed 2015 at Corneille Bryan Garden in Lake Junaluska, NC.

29 minutes - filmed 21 May 2016


   20b: Two biggest Florida Torreya trees still thriving at Junaluska NC in 2016

Both trees planted in full sun (as potted seedlings) in the upper end of Corneille Bryan Garden in 2008 are continuing to excel — despite now being fully shaded by deciduous border and canopy. A key finding is that neither specimen produced vertical apical growth in 2015, but both are doing so in 2016.

21 minutes - filmed 21 May 2016


   21: Torreya Guardian Profile: Lee Barnes

Lee Barnes is a founding Torreya Guardian, with the longest tenure of work with Torreya taxifolia. From 1981-85 his graduate research entailed advanced propagation techniques for three endangered plants in Torreya State Park of Florida — Torreya among them. Here Lee speaks of his research, his early role in securing Torreya seeds for distribution to volunteer planters, and his broader frame of biodiversity-centric life work. Lee confirms that North Carolina is excellent habitat for this Florida species — and that it is crucial to experiment with plantings much farther north as climate continues to change.

16 minutes - filmed May 2016


   VIDEO: Foresters Outpace Conservation Biologists in Climate Adaptation

The "assisted migration" ongoing project of Torreya Guardians is regularly cited in academic literature on climate adaptation controversies in biodversity and ecosystems protection. Here, Connie Barlow presents the first (highly illustrated) talk to professionals. Speaking to faculty and students at Michigan Technological University's School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Barlow presents the history of the "assisted migration" controversy — highlighting the reasons why foresters have already taken actions where conservation biologists fear to tread. (filmed Sept 11, 2015)

Note: This video is episode 08 in an ongoing video series by Barlow on forestry and climate adaptation. See an annotated list of titles and links to all such videos here: "CLIMATE, TREES, and LEGACY".


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