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.

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. 

  

Redbay planting at Ordway-Swisher Biological Station

It was a cold and rainy north central Florida December day, but that didn’t slow down restoration planting of redbay seedlings at a protected site near Gainesville, FL. Strains of redbay that have displayed resistance to the laurel wilt pathogen were planted in the cool wet weather. They will be studied in the effort to save Persea borbonia populations across the southeast by reintroducing tolerant germplasm. 

Survey at Torreya State Park

Biologists from the Florida Park Service and US FWS, conservation researchers from the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, local volunteers and the UF/SFRC Forest Pathology lab gathered in the panhandle of Florida on steep ravines near the Apalachicola River to survey pockets of the wild population of Torreya taxifolia.  Most of the previously mapped trees were found surviving and a new recruitment seedling was reported! However damage from deer browse was also noted, and surviving trees could not be described as thriving for the most part. It was a beautiful day to explore the habitat of this relict conifer, and to give thanks that we can play a role in learning about its place in the natural history of this area.

 

Visit to Torreya State Park

High above the Apalachicola River, in 1833 H.B. Croom discovered a rare native conifer.  Torreya taxifolia is named for the eminent American botanist John Torrey, and the current range only extends through 3 counties on the Florida-Georgia border. It is estimated that 99% of the population has been lost in the past century, most likely from a fungal pathogen that kills the mature tree and stunts and retards new growth. No new adult trees are seen in the wild, they do not set seed and only reproduce from the stumps.

A conservation plan has been proposed that includes cultivation of seedlings, disease-free clone production from tissue culture, and continued aggressive conservation of Torreya taxilfolia in its native range. To that end, more work is needed to survey the full biodiversity of its habitat and learn what we can from studying the communities of flora, fauna and fungi that share the ecosystem of this, the rarest North American conifer.