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Torreya californica Torr.
California nutmeg, California-nutmeg
USDA Symbol: toca
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
A small, understory tree, 15-50 ft. tall, that looks like a miniature yew or glossy-leaved redwood. The branches are slender and spreading and the narrow leaves are stiff and dark green. The tree bears green, nutmeg-like fruits with purple markings. Strongly aromatic tree with conical or rounded crown and rows of slender, spreading branches.
The name California Nutmeg refers to the resemblance of the aromatic seeds, with a deeply folded seed coat, to those of the unrelated commercial spice, nutmeg (Myristica fragrans Houtt.). Stinking-cedar alludes to the disagreeable resinous odor of crushed foliage and other parts. Native Americans used to make bows from the strong wood.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Notes: Pollen cones whitish.
DistributionUSA: CA Native Distribution: CA
mts. from Santa Cruz to Mendocino & Tulare to Tehama Cos. Native Habitat:
Cool, humid, wooded slopes
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement: Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained soils.
Conditions Comments: Not Available
PropagationDescription: Propagation from seed is possible.
Seed Collection: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
- Santa Barbara, CA
Record Last Modified: 2007-01-01
Research By: TWC Staff