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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    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Torreya californica California Nutmeg


commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Torreya_californica_-_Lemaire.jpg
Torreya californica California Nutmeg
commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Pymouss

 

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Summary


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.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 7. It is in leaf all year, in flower in May, and the seeds ripen from September to November. The species is 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 is pollinated by Wind. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly 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.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

T. myristica. Tumion californicum.

Habitats

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].

References   More on Edible Uses

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].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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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].

Special Uses

Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

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.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Propagation

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

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

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 NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Ephedra torreyanaMexican Tea, Torrey's jointfirShrub1.0 0-0  LMNDM23 
Pinus torreyanaSoledad Pine, Torrey pine, Santa Cruz Island Torrey pine, Soledad pine, Torrey pineTree20.0 8-11 FLMNDM323
Torreya fargesii Tree20.0 6-9 SLMHFSNM203
Torreya grandisChinese Nutmeg TreeTree25.0 7-10 SLMHFSNM213
Torreya jackii Tree10.0 7-10 SLMHFSNM202
Torreya nuciferaKaya, Japanese torreyaTree20.0 6-8 SLMHFSM52 
Torreya yunnanensisYunnan Nutmeg YewTree15.0 7-10 SLMHFSNM203

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.

 

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Botanical References

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