Torreya californica

Common Name:
California nutmeg
Plant Type:
Evergreen tree
Family:
Taxaceae (The Yew Family)
Geographic Origin:
California
California Native?:
Yes
Plant Size:
To 30 feet+
Landscape/Garden Uses:
Mixed plantings
Flowering Season:
Spring
Flower Color:
Not applicable
Exposure:
Sun or light shade
Soils:
Well-drained soil
Suggested Irrigation:
Moderate watering
Estimated Hardiness:
Hardy to 10 degrees F. or less
This is one of California's two members of the yew family, and one of our most unusual conifers. It is extremely variable in size and shape. In nature it can be seen as a straggling 6 foot shrub and as a towering 50 foot tree. In both cases, it has pendulous branches, the younger ones closely lined by deep green, sharply pointed needles, usually 1-2 inches long. It is inconspicuous in bloom but, in late summer and fall, carries a burden of ornamental nutmeg-shaped fruits, each up to an inch long. California nutmeg is--disregarding the pain factor--easily pruned and shaped. However, it is pretty just left alone, if not too heavily shaded. It thrives in sun or light shade near the coast, part shade inland, in most reasonably well drained soils, with moderate watering.