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Torreya californica 

Scope: Global
Language: English
Status_ne_offStatus_dd_offStatus_lc_offStatus_nt_offStatus_vu_onStatus_en_offStatus_cr_offStatus_ew_offStatus_ex_off

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Pinopsida Pinales Taxaceae

Scientific Name: Torreya californica Torr.
Common Name(s):
English California Nutmeg, California Torreya, Stinking Cedar
Taxonomic Source(s): Farjon, A. 2010. A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A1cd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2011-04-27
Assessor(s): Farjon, A.
Reviewer(s): Thomas, P. & Stritch, L.
Justification:
Past logging has virtually eliminated Torreya californica from parts of its historic range and also removed most of the large trees across almost all of its range. Regrowth is reported to be very slow. On this basis a past decline of more than 50% of mature trees in the population has been inferred over the past 150 years (three generations), leading to an assessment of Vulnerable under the A1 criterion.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:California Nutmeg is endemic to California where it is mainly found in the Coast Ranges and the Cascade-Sierra Nevada foothills.  In coastal areas it is distributed from southwest Trinity County south to Monterey County.  In the Cascade-Sierra Nevada foothills, it is distributed from Shasta County south to Tulare County.
Countries occurrence:
Native:
United States (California)
Additional data:
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Lower elevation limit (metres):30
Upper elevation limit (metres):2500
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Populations are usually small and localized. The population is substantially reduced from what it was before but is now slowly recovering.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Torreya californica is a scattered understorey tree usually growing in moist and shady places in hilly to mountainous terrain dominated by tall conifers, especially Sequoia sempervirens, Picea sitchensis and Pseudotsuga menziesii. In the western valleys of the Sierra Nevada it is associated with angiosperms, mainly Acer spp., Cornus nuttallii, Platanus occidentalis, and Alnus rubra and here it strictly adheres to stream banks in steep canyons at altitudes around 1,200 m a.s.l. Its altitudinal range is from near sea level (but usually above 200 m) in the Coast Ranges to 2,500 m a.s.l. in the Sierra Nevada. On serpentine rock it becomes a stunted tree or shrub and occurs on north-facing slopes in coastal chaparral. It is capable of resprouting following disturbance such as fire although regrowth is slow.
Systems:Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):50

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: In the past, Torreya californica was used for cabinet making, fencing and bridges, as it is rot resistant. Due to its current rarity it is no longer used. California Indians used it for their bows, seeds were roasted for food and some tribes (e.g. the Pomo) used the roots for basket weaving. T. californica is the most commonly cultivated species of its genus and can grow into an impressive, wide crowned tree with striking foliage and large, pendulous, plum-like green or glaucous seeds. It is almost exclusively used as an ornamental in large gardens or planted in arboreta. The name 'nutmeg' only refers to a superficial similarity with true nutmeg fruits (from Myristica fragrans, an angiosperm tree species).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Logging in the late 19th and up to the mid 20th centuries virtually eliminated California Nutmeg from the Vaca Mountains of Napa and Solano counties, and considerably reduced populations in the Santa Cruz Mountains and lower Russian River area of Sonoma County (Howard 1992). Logging also eliminated many of the larger trees in the remainder of its range and resulted in a decline of mature trees in the total population, which is only now slowly being restored. As this species is dependent on forest cover, deforestation in parts of California has further contributed to a decline. On this basis it is reasonable to infer an historic decline in the number of mature trees of at least 50%. This decline has now ceased or virtually ceased.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is known from several protected areas within its range.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
3. Shrubland -> 3.8. Shrubland - Mediterranean-type Shrubby Vegetation
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:No
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:No
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.3. Agro-industry farming
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.3. Agro-industry grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.2. Intentional use: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Past, Unlikely to Return    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.4. Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.4. Habitat trends

♦  Construction or structural materials
 Local : ✓ 

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 Local : ✓   National : ✓  International : ✓ 

♦  Establishing ex-situ production *

Bibliography [top]

Farjon, A. 2010. A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.

Farjon, A. et al. 1998. Data collection forms for conifer species completed by the IUCN/SSC Conifer Specialist Group between 1996 and 1998.

Howard, J.L. 1992. Torreya californica. Available at: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/tree/torcal/all.html. (Accessed: 30 July 2010).

IUCN. 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2013.1). Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 12 June 2013).


Citation: Farjon, A. 2013. Torreya californica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T34026A2840781. . Downloaded on 22 September 2017.
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