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Florida Tree Nears Extinction As Researchers Work To Save It

Torreya tree. Photo courtesy University of South Florida

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There’s an effort underway to save a Florida tree from extinction.

The Florida torreya tree is a conifer found primarily in the Panhandle near the Apalachicola River. Fewer than 800 are believed to remain in existence.

Jason Smith of the University of Florida says a fungus is behind its decline.

“It causes a lesion in the stem that causes the tree to die. Basically we think the species is on a very rapid trajectory toward extinction. It’s likely that within the next 50 years the population will go extinct.”

Researchers are considering whether the tree could be genetically altered to resist the fungus. In the meantime they are working to preserve it in places like the Atlanta Botanical Garden.


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Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

Amy Green covers the environment for 90.7 News. She is an award-winning journalist whose work has been heard on NPR and seen in PEOPLE, Newsweek, The New York Times and The Christian Science Monitor. She began her career at The Associated Press. Her book on the Everglades, under contract with Johns Hopkins ... Read Full Bio »