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SPECIES: Torreya californica | California Torreya
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : California torreya is a dioecious native evergreen tree, typically from 16.5 to 90 feet (5-30 m) tall and 8 to 20 inches (20-51 cm) in diameter [16,21]. A record tree growing near Fort Bragg measured 141 feet (43 m) in height and 14.8 feet (4.5 m) in d.b.h. until cut by timber thieves [17]. The crown is pyramidal to irregular in shape [10,19]. Needles persist for many years. The bark is thin, from 0.3 to 0.5 inch (0.8-1.3 cm) on mature trees [19]. Roots are described as "deep" [14]. The large, heavy seeds are from 1 to 1.4 inches (2.5-3.0 cm) long, enveloped by a drupelike aril [16,21]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Male California torreya bear their microsporophylls within strobili. In contrast, the ovules of female trees are not contained within strobili but are solitary [16]. Male strobili begin growth the year prior to flowering, while females trees develop ovules in one growing season [21]. Torreyas are wind pollinated [16]. Male trees must normally be within 75 to 90 feet (23-27 m) of female trees in order to effect pollination [24]. Seed production is erratic. Good seed crops may be followed by crop failure the following year [10]. Seeds mature in 2 years [19]. Being heavy, seeds usually fall near the parent plant; wind dissemination is rare [17]. Seed predation by Stellar's and scrub jay is high [10]. Seeds require a 9- to 12-month stratification period before germination [21]. In one study, seeds stratified for 3 months before planting took an additional 9 months to germinate under greenhouse conditions. Ninety-two percent of seedlings germinated at that time. [15]. Temperature regimes during the stratification period were not noted. Seeds sometimes germinate without stratification but do so slowly [21]. Growth of trees in the understory is slow [10]. Sudworth [24] reported trees from 4 to 8 inches (10-20 cm) in diameter were 60 to 110 years of age, while those from 12 to 18 inches (30-46 cm) in diameter were 170 to 265 years old. The growth rate needs further study, however, as rates of over 1 foot (30 cm) per year have been reported in cultivars [3]. Preliminary data obtained from tree-ring counts of saplings on the El Dorado National Forest shows some trees attained heights of 4.8 feet (1.5 m) in 28 years [10]. California torreya sprouts from the roots, root crown, and bole following damage to aboveground portions of the tree [3,10,19]. Some torreyas reproduce by layering [21], but the layering capacity of California torreya is unknown. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : California torreya grows in diverse sites such as streambanks, shaded slopes, hot dry canyons, canyon floors, and lowland flats [3]. Best growth occurs on moist sites. Trees in Colusa County grow in serpentine soil [8]. The climate is mediterranean, characterized by hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Summer climate is moderated in the outer Coast Ranges by cool marine air and fog [29]. California torreya grows at elevations from 3,000 to 7,000 feet (914-2,134 m) [16]. Plant associations: Common overstory associates not listed under Distrubution and Occurrence include tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflora), Oregon ash (Fraxinus latifolia), California bay (Umbellularia californica), bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum), white alder (Alnus rhombifolia), and bishop pine (Pinus muricata). Understory associates include cascara (Rhamnus purshiana), ceanothus (Ceanothus spp.), manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.), Pacific rhododendron (Rhodedendron macrophyllum), California huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum), California red huckleberry (V. parvifolium), and Pacific bayberry (Myrica californica) [12,28]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species California torreya is very shade tolerant [9] and is found in late seral and climax communities [3]. Following disturbance such as fire or logging, sprouts growing from surviving perennating buds appear in initial communities [10]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Stamens and arils are produced from March through May [16,21]. Seeds ripen from August until October and are released from September through November [15,21,27].

Related categories for Species: Torreya californica | California Torreya

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Information Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory. Fire Effects Information System

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