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Torreya nucifera - (L.)Siebold.&Zucc.
Common Name Kaya, Japanese torreya
Family Cephalotaxaceae
USDA hardiness 6-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Moist valley bottoms[81].
Range E. Asia - C. and S. Japan.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade


Torreya nucifera Kaya, Japanese torreya

Torreya nucifera Kaya, Japanese torreya
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of cone
Torreya nucifera is an evergreen Tree growing to 20 m (65ft) by 10 m (32ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 7. It is in leaf 12-Jan, and the seeds ripen from Sep to November. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

Taxus nucifera.

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

Seed - raw, cooked or used in confectionery[1, 63, 105, 183]. An agreeable sweet slightly resinous flavour[11]. An aromatic flavour[46], it is much relished and is eaten in quantity[178] though it is said to be laxative if eaten in excess[2]. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[1, 2, 1, 63, 178, 183]. Used in cooking[183].
Medicinal Uses

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Anodyne;  Anthelmintic;  Carminative;  Digestive;  Laxative;  Pectoral.

The seeds are anthelmintic[63, 147, 178, 218]. They are used in the treatment of several parasitic conditions including hookworm, tapeworms, pinworms and roundworms[279]. The plant is anodyne, carminative, digestive, laxative and pectoral[63, 147, 178, 218].
Other Uses

None known
Cultivation details
Succeeds in ordinary garden soil, tolerating some lime[1]. Prefers an acid soil[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]. Requires hot, very humid summers for best growth[200]. Trees are probably not hardy in all parts of Britain, but should succeed quite far north. A tree at Wakehurst Place was 11 metres tall in 1970[185]. A shrub growing in the shade of coniferous trees at Kew was about 2.5 metres tall and 4 metres wide in September 1993[K], it was carrying a very heavy crop of fruit[K]. No fruit was formed in 1994[K]. A specimen at Cambridge Botanical Gardens was 6 metres tall and 6 metres wide, it was carrying an enormous crop of seed in the late summer of 1996[K]. This plant has an excellent potential as a nut crop in Britain[K]. Sometimes cultivated for its edible seed in Japan, the variety 'Shibunashigaya' is considered to be the best for seed production[46]. The seed takes two summers to mature[229]. Plants are dioecious so both male and female plants are required if seed is to be produced. Occasional trees are monoecious with dioecious branches. Solitary trees have been seen on a number of occasions with heavy crops of fertile seed, so it would appear that the tree is not dioecious[K].
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 californicaCalifornia Nutmeg31
Torreya fargesii 20
Torreya grandisChinese Nutmeg Tree21
Torreya jackii 20
Torreya yunnanensisYunnan Nutmeg Yew20
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Expert comment
Botanical References
Links / References
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Readers comment
Elizabeth H.
Fri May 23 08:00:55 2003
This plant is used for traditional japanese go boards (a board game). See http://senseis.xmp.net/?Kaya
Elizabeth H.
Hans Walthaus Tue Nov 11 17:27:51 2003
Other uses:

The kaya wood is most famous for it's use in Goban's. A goban is a table for playing the board game Igo

Elizabeth H.
Sandy Harris Sun Jul 31 04:33:25 2005
The tree also yields the anti-cancer drug taxol, but since it is a slow-growing tree and there are not many of them, not enough.


Elizabeth H.
Mon Dec 3 2007
Go boards, torreya yunnanensis is also used. Would like to know the actullal quality difference of the woods.
Elizabeth H.
Sat Apr 12 2008
Alaska White Spruce are also used to make Go board and considered the best alternate to Kaya.
Elizabeth H.
dn Thu May 1 2008
From memoryaT.nucifera is pretty wind tolerent, took gales with just a little inadequate shelter. It seemed to do ok with some salt spray. I don't know how well they did compared with a sheltered spot, never seemedto grow much. Might be worth a try.
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Subject : Torreya nucifera  

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