California nutmeg Taxaceae Torreya
californica Torr. symbol: TOCA
Leaf: Persistent, linear-lanceolate flat needles, 1 to 3 inches long, 2-ranked, stiff with a very sharp point. Strongly aromatic.
Flower: Species is dioecious; male flowers are small, elliptical, pale yellow, and occur at the base of the leaves; female flowers are tiny, consisting of an ovule surrounded by a fleshy sac and are borne on current year twigs.
Fruit: An aril rather than a cone; similar to a very large olive with a fleshy outer green covering and an inner, yellow-brown, thick walled seed. Takes two years to mature.
Twig: Slender, mostly paired, yellow-green when young turning reddish brown as they mature.
Bark: Mature bark is thin and gray-brown with shallow, irregular fissures and scaly ridges.
Form: Small to moderate sized tree (20 to 70 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet in diameter) with conical or rounded crown depending on age and growing conditions, slender, spreading, and somewhat drooping branches.
Looks like: Pacific yew - Florida torreya - Chinese plum-yew
Additional Range Information: Torreya californica is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting California nutmeg.
External Links: USDAFS Additional Silvics - USDA Plants Database
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson