Originally posted on GeorgiaBeforePeople:
The torreya (Torreya taxifolia), also known as the stinking cedar because its crushed needles give off a strong resin odor, is a relic species thought to have been more widespread during warm climatic phases of the Pleistocene. It likely diverged from an ancestor that was even more widespread during the Miocene when warm moist forests occurred all across North America and Asia. T. taxifolia is an extremely rare species confined to just the east side of the Apalachicola and Flint Rivers, while a closely related sister species (T. californica) is native to California where it is found in several disjunct populations.
Pleistocene Ice Ages fostered the spread of arid grassland environments that were unsuitable for torreyas. Under these conditions the torreya retreated to moist refugia on steep ravines of the Apalachicola and Flint Rivers. Connie Barlow, author of the below referenced book, thinks the torreya …
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