SAFEPS 2018

The University of Florida Forest Pathology lab presented research on laurel wilt disease, pine pitch canker, the wood decay fungus Ganoderma, Torreya taxifolia, and the Araucarias of New Caledonia at the 27th Southern Appalachian Forest Entomology and Pathology Seminar at the North Carolina Forest Service Mountain Training Facility. Researchers from Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Virginia and the Carolinas presented updates on efforts to combat Emerald Ash Borer, Southern Pine Beetle, the devastating Hemlock Wooly Adelgid and other pests of southeastern forests.

30 micron slice of redbay stem

Tyloses are bladder-like or balloon-like projections that block the xylem. In this photo you can see a tan ball inside one of the xylem cells (large openings). It’s almost right in the center. These are what essentially kill the plants in the cases of laurel wilt and Dutch elm disease.

Micrograph and words by PhD candidate student Stephanie Adams.

Over 2 days the Torreya Tree of Life event brought together leading conservation biologists to help save America’s rarest tree.


At Torreya – Tree of Life, 100 biologists met at the UF/ IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy and at the breathtaking Torreya State Park to brainstorm a plan to preserve the biodiversity of the Florida panhandle.

LAUNCH PHOTO SLIDESHOW

 

Every species plays its part in the tree of life

It was a perfect day for a hike through the ravines of the Apalachicola River basin north of the Gulf in the Florida panhandle. Dozens of biologists got to spend over an hour on the forest floor listening to E.O. Wilson talk about biodiversity and reminisce on the conditions of life in his old stomping grounds. A beautiful day to interact with other great scientists on how to bring the Florida torreya back from the brink of extinction.

The race is on to save this beautiful rare tree, because all life is connected and we are connected to all life on earth. Experts in conservation, forestry and biodiversity have teamed up to plan how best to protect this ancient conifer.

 

News at a glance: Q&A with E. O. Wilson

Today in the journal Science,  renowned biologist and writer Edward O. Wilson reflects on his experiences in the Florida panhandle, and answers some questions about the critically endangered Florida torreya tree.

Three Qs

E. O. Wilson wants to save rare Florida tree

Government officials, conservationists, and researchers—including renowned Harvard University biologist Edward O. Wilson—will gather next week in Bristol, Florida, to discuss the fate of the Florida torreya (Torreya taxifolia). Also known as stinking cedar, it is considered by many to be the most endangered tree species in the world. A deadly fungus has killed all but about 1000 trees, most of which grow along a 56-kilometer stretch of Florida’s Apalachicola River, and the pathogen has already infected the remaining trees. Science caught up with Wilson, who has been called “the father of biodiversity,” on the eve of his trip to the meeting.

Q:When did you first find out the Florida torreya was in trouble?

A:In July 1957. I was collecting ants up and down the Florida peninsula and panhandle. At Torreya State Park, we got a lot of good stuff. But we noticed that this marvelous endemic [tree] from the ice age was wilted. So, this is how it began, and now it’s on its last legs.

Q:What makes this tree and region special to you?

A:It’s where I come from, where I spent my boyhood. Not exactly there, but an area like that. I go to somewhere on the Gulf Coast several times a year, as I’ve been active in doing research to propose a new national park in the Mobile-Tensaw River delta [in Alabama] and to promote the setting up of a biodiversity corridor [that] would stretch from somewhere around Tallahassee and along the Gulf Coast as far as Louisiana. The Apalachicola River might be part of that.

Q:Can this tree be saved?

A:There is an out. The torreya has become a reasonably popular ornamental, and it’s being widely distributed. And in the return of the American chestnut, where there seemed to be no hope after it went completely extinct—therein lies the story of what could happen to the torreya. I’d like to see the torreya become a symbol and an issue that people are interested in.

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6378/848.full

More information concerning the upcoming event is available here…

Torreya Tree of Life

 

Grafting class

With spring in the air, today was a good day for a grafting workshop. Forest pathology students used grafting techniques at the SFRC Plant Growth Complex, with quaking aspen rootstock and scions collected in Texas.

Ocheesee Landing on the Apalachicola River

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) dismantled and relocated the historic  Gregory House from its original location at Ocheesee Landing across the Apalachicola River to the east bank.

The high bluffs overlooking the mighty river provide one of north Florida’s most scenic landscapes.

The Gregory House is now home to the visitor center at Torreya State Park. 

 

Announcing: Torreya – Tree of Life event!

The Florida Torreya, Torreya taxifolia, is in grave danger of disappearing from the wild. Its range has shrunk to three counties on the Florida-Georgia border northwest of Tallahassee. Given this last opportunity to learn about the natural biome of a rare and beautiful conifer, a team of biologists will assemble at Torreya State Park on March 1-2, 2018. Experts will sample and survey the ecosystem associated with T. taxifolia from soil microbiology to flora and fauna, and brainstorm a plan to help save this beautiful tree for future generations to enjoy.

More information concerning the event is available here…

Torreya Tree of Life