homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner
Torreya californica - Torr.
Common Name California Nutmeg
Family Cephalotaxaceae
USDA hardiness 6-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Rare and local along mountain streams, protected slopes, creek bottoms, and moist canyons of the Coastal Range and Sierra Nevada from sea level to 2000 metres[270].
Range South-western N. America - California.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun


Torreya californica California Nutmeg

Torreya californica California Nutmeg
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of cone
Torreya californica is an evergreen Tree growing to 15 m (49ft) by 8 m (26ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 7. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen from Sep to November. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Wind.The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

T. myristica. Tumion californicum.

Woodland Garden Canopy; Secondary; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Oil;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Oil.

Seed - raw or cooked[183]. The seeds are roasted and eaten[257]. They are rich in oil[105, 161]. The ovoid seed is up to 2cm long[K]. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[177, 183].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Analgesic;  Diaphoretic;  Febrifuge;  Stomachic;  TB.

The nuts have been chewed as a treatment for indigestion[257]. A decoction of the nuts has been used in the treatment of tuberculosis[257]. The crushed seeds have been rubbed on the temples in the treatment of headaches[257]. They have also been rubbed on the body to cause sweating in the treatment of chills and fevers[257].
Other Uses
Basketry;  Oil;  Wood.

The roots have been used as splints in basketry[257]. Wood - straight-grained, strong, light, soft, easily worked. Of no commercial value[229], though it is occasionally used for fence posts[82, 229].
Cultivation details
Succeeds in ordinary garden soil, tolerating some lime[1]. Undemanding as to the soil pH[200]. Dislikes wind exposure[200]. Requires a sheltered position and either high humidity or a moist riverside soil[200]. Tolerates woodland shade very well[200]. One report says that trees are only hardy in the milder parts of Britain[1], whilst another says that trees are hardy in Britain at least as far north as Edinburgh[200]. This species is the only member of the genus that is fully adapted to cool maritime sites. It can actually grow faster in such a position than it does in the wild[200]. Trees in general grow better in the wetter western part of Britain[81]. Usually slow growing, though trees occasionally increase by 60cm in a year[185]. The bruised leaves release a powerful resinous smell[245]. The fruits are also aromatic[245]. The seed takes two summers to mature[229]. Trees often crop well at Kew, but there were no seeds formed in 1994[K]. A tree in fairly deep shade at Kew was carrying a good crop of seeds in the summer of 1996[K]. Plants are usually dioecious, but isolated female plants have been known to bear fruit in the absence of a pollinating male[11]. Plants are sometimes monoecious with dioecious branches. Male and female plants must usually be grown if seed is required.
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Some of the seed should germinate in the following spring though much of it might take another 12 months. Stored seed requires a period of cold stratification and can take 18 months or more to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as growth is observed and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for at least the next couple of winters, making sure to pot them on into larger pots as and when required. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer when the plants are at least 20cm tall. Cuttings of half-ripe shoots in late summer[1]. Cuttings do not grow well[11]. Layering.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Ephedra torreyanaMexican Tea, Torrey's jointfir23
Pinus torreyanaSoledad Pine, Torrey pine, Santa Cruz Island Torrey pine, Soledad pine, Torrey pine32
Torreya fargesii 20
Torreya grandisChinese Nutmeg Tree21
Torreya jackii 20
Torreya nuciferaKaya, Japanese torreya52
Torreya yunnanensisYunnan Nutmeg Yew20


Print Friendly and PDF
Expert comment
Botanical References
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
Readers comment
QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.
2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.
3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the pfaf.org website on their phone.
Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at admin@pfaf.org. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Torreya californica  

Plant Uses

Edible Uses
Medicinal Uses
Other Plant uses
Woodland Gardening
Why Perennial Plants?
Top Edible Plants
Top Medicinal Plants
Garden Design

Twiter      Facebook


Content Help
Support Us
Old Database Search
About Us
Sign In

PFAF Newsletter

Stay informed about PFAFs progress,
challenges and hopes by signing up for
our free email ePost. You will receive
a range of benefits including:
* Important announcements and news
* Exclusive content not on the website
* Updates on new information &
functionality of the website & database

We will not sell or share your email address.
You can unsubscribe at anytime.