Saturday, March 15, 2008
One of the world's rarest trees - the Florida Torreya
Jackson County was once part of the natural habitat of the Florida Torreya tree.
Tens of thousands of these trees could be found growing in the region during the early 1800s, but today only around 200 survive on the entire earth.
Local legend holds that the Florida Torreya was the gopher wood from which Noah built the ark. While scientists do not confirm this, they do tell us that the Torreya is one of the oldest species of tree found on the earth. They are also working hard to try to save it from extinction.
The Atlanta Botanical Garden, working in cooperation with the Florida Park Service, has implemented a program to grow seedlings from the few surviving Florida Torreya trees. These seedlings are now being planted in the steephead ravines of Torreya State Park (across the river in Gadsden County). It is hoped that over time the replantings will lead to slow but steady growth in the living Torreya population.
If you are interested in seeing these extremely rare trees, the largest concentration in our area is at Torreya State Park between Chattahoochee and Bristol. A living Torreya can also be seen at Florida Caverns State Park. It is growing along the walkway leading from the parking lot to the Visitor Center.