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Torreya californica

Torreya californica Torr.

California Nutmeg, California-nutmeg

Taxaceae (Yew Family)



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.


From the Image Gallery

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Size Class: 36-72 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Notes: Pollen cones whitish.


Native Distribution: CA mts. from Santa Cruz to Mendocino & Tulare to Tehama Cos.
Native Habitat: Cool, humid, wooded slopes

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained soils.
Conditions Comments: Not Available


Description: 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 on display at the following locations:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA

Additional resources

USDA: Find Torreya californica in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Torreya californica in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Torreya californica


Record Modified: 2007-01-01
Research By: TWC Staff

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