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Torreya nucifera

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
PLANTAE TRACHEOPHYTA PINOPSIDA PINALES TAXACEAE

Scientific Name: Torreya nucifera
Species Authority: (L.) Siebold & Zucc.
Common Name(s):
English Japanese Nutmeg Tree
Synonym(s):
Taxus nucifera L.
Torreya nucifera (L.) Siebold & Zucc. variety radicans Nakai

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2010-12-16
Assessor(s): Katsuki, T. & Luscombe, D
Reviewer(s): Thomas, P.
Justification:
This species has a wide range and most of the population reduction is thought to have taken place more than three generations ago. There is evidence of decline today, but it seems to be a fairly slow rate of decline and confined to the smaller subpopulations. If there were further information on the decline rates or of the area of occupancy, then it it might be close enough to the threatened thresholds to qualify for Near Threatened. In the absence of this information it has to be assessed as Least Concern. Further research is required to determine the true status of this species.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Recorded from Japan: S Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku; and South Korea: Cheju Island, Wando Island.
Countries:
Native:
Japan (Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku); Korea, Republic of
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is highly scattered and declining in parts of its range.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Torreya nucifera is a woodland species occurring scattered in most types of mixed broad-leaved-conifer forest in the southern half of Japan. Wilson (1916) mentioned a locality SW of Tokyo, where it is more abundant, growing with Abies firma on steep slopes composed of shale on a hill ca. 500 m high. In other sites, including some islands in South Korea, it holds out in secondary vegetation where it becomes shrubby. Old-growth forest with ancient trees of T. nucifera in large numbers occurs in Korea's Pija-Rim National Park, with trees estimated to be 500-800 years old. The altitudinal range is from near sea level to at least 1,100 m a.s.l. Besides Abies firma and Tsuga sieboldii, the most common conifers among which Torreya nucifera is found, Chamaecyparis obtusa, Podocarpus macrophyllus, Nageia nagi, Taxus cuspidata, and Sciadopitys verticillata are often associated with this species. Locations dominated by conifers in the mixed mesophytic forests of warm temperate Japan are often on rocky south-facing slopes with poorly developed soils.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The wood of this species is valued in Japan for its lustrous, pale brown leaf colour and its durability especially in contact with water. It is used for furniture and cabinet making, chests and boxes, Japanese chessmen, and formerly water buckets. The seeds are rich in edible oils and these as well as the arils are used in Japanese cuisine. This tree is widely planted near temples and in parks and gardens in Japan; all trees N of Tokyo are thought to be originally planted (Wilson 1916) and some of these are champion trees much larger than most trees in the forests. In Europe and North America it is an uncommon ornamental shrub or tree in arboreta, botanic gardens, and occasionally in private gardens.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The population has become very fragmented due to historic clearance of large areas of habitat and as a result the remaining plants are increasingly isolated from each other and as a result regeneration is declining. In some cases there is no regeneration taking place and when the trees die there is local extinction, but it is hard to quantify what proportion of the population is impacted by this.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It occurs in a number of protected areas across its range. Further research is required into the population size and trends of this species, the area of occupancy and also the nature of any threats. This information is needed to make a better assessment of its conservation status.

Citation: Katsuki, T. & Luscombe, D 2013. Torreya nucifera. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 23 October 2014.
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