Torreya californica

Common Name:
California nutmeg
Plant Type:
Evergreen tree
Taxaceae (The Yew Family)
Geographic Origin:
California Native?:
Plant Size:
To 30 feet+
Landscape/Garden Uses:
Mixed plantings
Flowering Season:
Flower Color:
Not applicable
Sun or light shade
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.