Torreya californica

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Species Name: Torreya californica
Common Name: California Nutmeg

A beautiful and strongly aromatic tree. Pendulous branches bear ornamental nutmeg fruits in summer and fall. Sharp needles were used for tattooing by Native Americans. Performs best in redwood region.

Plant Family: Taxaceae
Plant Type: Tree
Height by Width: 50' H
Growth Habit: Upright
Deciduous/Evergreen: Evergreen
Growth Rate: Slow
Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Soil Preference: Well-draining
Water Requirements: Moderate to regular
Cold Hardy to: 10 degrees F
Flower Season:
Flower Color:
Endangered?: Not Listed
Distribution: North Coast, North Coast Ranges, Cascade Range Foothills, Sierra Nevada, Outer South Coast Range
Natural Habitat: Shady canyons in forest or woodland, sometimes in chaparral.

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Care and Maintenance

  • From California Native Plants, Theodore Payne's 1941 catalog: "A rare and beautiful tree somewhat resembling the English Yew, but with larger foliage. Found in cool shady canyons in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Also in the Sierra Nevadas. Specimens in tubs, $5.00."
Other Names