The Florida torreya is a small tree, sometimes 30-40 feet in height, 1-2 feet in diameter. It is characterized by a short bole and an open, pyramidal crown, composed of whorls of spreading branches.
Leaves are linear, 1.5 inches long,
rounded at the back, 2-ranked, and persistent for several years.
The leaf apex is stout and sharp. Leaf bases are short-stalked.
Leave surfaces are lustrous dark green above, silvery white below.
needle-like, 8-18 inches in length, 3 needles per fascicle. Leaves
occur at the ends of stout branches in dense, ball-like tufts. Leaves
are bright green, slender, flexible, and 3-sided. These leaves begin
to fall off in the second season.
The flowers are dioecious. The male is solitary, with yellow stamens. Females are also solitary and purple.
The fruit is 1-1.25 inch long, ovoid, consisting of a single, reddish-brown seed covered by a layer of thin, leathery, purplish flesh.
The twigs are bright green or yellow-green,
pubescent, becoming reddish-brown and smooth.
The bark is irregularly fissured and
scaly, dark brown, and often tinged with orange.
The Florida torreya is a rare tree
of local occurrence. It grows on bluffs and slopes covered by rich,
moist soils of limestone origin. It usually occurs as an occasional
tree in association with Florida yew and many hardwoods, including swamp
white oak, southern Magnolia, holly, buckeyes, palmetto, beech, yellow-poplar,
and redgum. It is largely restricted to the banks of the Apalachicola
River and its tributaries in western Florida. It has also been observed
in Decatur County in southwestern Georgia.
This tree is federally listed as endangered. In addition to its native habitat, it can be found planted as an ornamental, particularly in Tallahassee, Florida and the vicinity.
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