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Useful Temperate Plants

Torreya californica

Torr.

Taxaceae

+ Synonyms

Caryotaxus myristica (Hook.) Henkel & W.Hochst.

Foetataxus myristica (Hook.) J.Nelson

Torreya myristica Hook.

Tumion californicum (Torr.) Greene

Common Name: California Nutmeg

No Image.

General Information

Torreya californica is an evergreen tree with a conical crown when young becoming round-topped with age; it can grow 5 - 20 metres tall, occasionally to 25 metres. The straight, cylindrical bole is usually 20 - 90cm in diameter, occasionally to 120cm[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
,
329
Title
The Gymnosperm Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.conifers.org/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A vast amount of information on conifers and families of gymnosperms.
,
1050
Title
Fire Effects Information System
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.feis-crs.org/feis/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line information site with comprehensive information on over 1,100 species of plant. Mainly developed to supply information on the effects of fire on plants and animals, it also contains a wealth of other information on the plants
].
The tree is little used at present due to its scarcity (especially of large specimens), but it can be used to supply food, medicines and materials. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental, though the disagreeable odour of the needles detracts from its desirability[
1050
Title
Fire Effects Information System
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.feis-crs.org/feis/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line information site with comprehensive information on over 1,100 species of plant. Mainly developed to supply information on the effects of fire on plants and animals, it also contains a wealth of other information on the plants
].
Past logging has virtually eliminated Torreya californica from parts of its historic range and also removed most of the large trees across almost all of its range. Regrowth is reported to be very slow. On this basis a past decline of more than 50% of mature trees in the population has been inferred over the past 150 years. The plant is classified as 'Vulnerable' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.

Range

South-western N. America - California

Habitat

Rare and local along mountain streams, protected slopes, creek bottoms, and moist canyons of the Coastal Range and Sierra Nevada; at elevations from sea level to 2,000 metres[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
].

Properties

Conservation StatusVulnerable
Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Tree
Height15.00 m
PollinatorsWind
Self-fertileNo
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

Torreya californica is a fairly cold-hardy tree, able to tolerate temperatures falling to between -17.7°c and -12.2°[
329
Title
The Gymnosperm Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.conifers.org/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A vast amount of information on conifers and families of gymnosperms.
]. One report says that trees are only hardy in the milder parts of Britain[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
], whilst another says that trees are hardy in Britain at least as far north as Edinburgh[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. This species is the only member of the genus that is fully adapted to cool maritime climates. It can actually grow faster in such a position than it does in its native habitat[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Succeeds in ordinary garden soil, tolerating some lime[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
]. Undemanding as to the soil pH[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Dislikes wind exposure[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Requires a sheltered position and either high humidity or a moist riverside soil[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Tolerates woodland shade very well[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Species in this genus are generally adapted to growing in primary woodland. The seedlings are very shade tolerant, establishing well in the deeper shade of a woodland and then growing up to the light. They can sometimes be found growing in secondary vegetation, but they do not usually persist, being outcompeted by other, more light-tolerant species[
329
Title
The Gymnosperm Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.conifers.org/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A vast amount of information on conifers and families of gymnosperms.
].
The tree produces new sprouts from the roots, bole, and root crown following damage to above-ground portions of the tree. Numerous sprouts are produced at the base of the parent tree, although only one sprout usually survives after several years of growth[
1050
Title
Fire Effects Information System
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.feis-crs.org/feis/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line information site with comprehensive information on over 1,100 species of plant. Mainly developed to supply information on the effects of fire on plants and animals, it also contains a wealth of other information on the plants
].
Usually slow growing, though trees can occasionally increase by up to 60cm in a year[
185
Title
Conifers in the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Mitchell. A. F.
Publisher
HMSO
Year
1975
ISBN
0-11-710012-9
Description
A bit out of date (first published in 1972), but an excellent guide to how well the various species of conifers grow in Britain giving locations of trees.
].
The bruised leaves release a powerful resinous smell[
245
Title
Scented Flora of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Genders. R.
Publisher
Robert Hale. London.
Year
1994
ISBN
0-7090-5440-8
Description
An excellent, comprehensive book on scented plants giving a few other plant uses and brief cultivation details. There are no illustrations.
]. The fruits are also aromatic[
245
Title
Scented Flora of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Genders. R.
Publisher
Robert Hale. London.
Year
1994
ISBN
0-7090-5440-8
Description
An excellent, comprehensive book on scented plants giving a few other plant uses and brief cultivation details. There are no illustrations.
].
The seed takes two summers to mature[
229
Title
The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History.
Publication
 
Author
Elias. T.
Publisher
Van Nostrand Reinhold Co.
Year
1980
ISBN
0442238622
Description
A very good concise guide. Gives habitats, good descriptions, maps showing distribution and a few of the uses. It also includes the many shrubs that occasionally reach tree proportions.
]. Trees often crop well at Kew Gardens in the UK (hardiness zone 7 - 8), but there were no seeds formed in 1994[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. A tree in fairly deep shade at Kew was carrying a good crop of seeds in the summer of 1996[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].
Plants are usually dioecious, but isolated female plants have been known to bear fruit in the absence of a pollinating male[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
]. Plants are sometimes monoecious with dioecious branches. Male and female plants must usually be grown if seed is required.

Torreya californica is a scattered understorey tree usually growing in moist and shady places in hilly to mountainous terrain dominated by tall conifers, especially Sequoia sempervirens, Picea sitchensis and Pseudotsuga menziesii. In the western valleys of the Sierra Nevada it is associated with angiosperms, mainly Acer spp., Cornus nuttallii, Platanus occidentalis, and Alnus rubra and here it strictly adheres to stream banks in steep canyons at altitudes around 1,200 m a.s.l. Its altitudinal range is from near sea level (but usually above 200 m) in the Coast Ranges to 2,500 m a.s.l. in the Sierra Nevada. On serpentine rock it becomes a stunted tree or shrub and occurs on north-facing slopes in coastal chaparral. It is capable of resprouting following disturbance such as fire although regrowth is slow[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].

Edible Uses

Seed - raw or cooked[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. Said to taste somewhat like peanuts[
1050
Title
Fire Effects Information System
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.feis-crs.org/feis/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line information site with comprehensive information on over 1,100 species of plant. Mainly developed to supply information on the effects of fire on plants and animals, it also contains a wealth of other information on the plants
]. The seeds are roasted and eaten[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
]. They are rich in oil[
105
Title
Tanaka's Cyclopedia of Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Tanaka. T. & Nakao S.
Publisher
Keigaku Publishing; Tokyo
Year
1976
ISBN
-
Description
The most comprehensive list of edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
,
161
Title
Food Plants of the N. American Indians. Publication no. 237.
Publication
 
Author
Yanovsky. E.
Publisher
U.S. Depf of Agriculture.
Year
 
ISBN
-
Description
A comprehensive but very terse guide. Not for the casual reader.
]. The ovoid seed is up to 3cm long[
1050
Title
Fire Effects Information System
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.feis-crs.org/feis/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line information site with comprehensive information on over 1,100 species of plant. Mainly developed to supply information on the effects of fire on plants and animals, it also contains a wealth of other information on the plants
,
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

An edible oil is obtained from the seed[
177
Title
Plants for Human Consumption.
Publication
 
Author
Kunkel. G.
Publisher
Koeltz Scientific Books
Year
1984
ISBN
3874292169
Description
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of Latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
,
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. The seed oil has potential for use in cooking, being similar in quality to olive and pine-nut oils[
1050
Title
Fire Effects Information System
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.feis-crs.org/feis/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line information site with comprehensive information on over 1,100 species of plant. Mainly developed to supply information on the effects of fire on plants and animals, it also contains a wealth of other information on the plants
].

Medicinal

The nuts have been chewed as a treatment for indigestion[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
]. A decoction of the nuts has been used in the treatment of tuberculosis[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
]. The crushed seeds have been rubbed on the temples in the treatment of headaches[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
]. They have also been rubbed on the body to cause sweating in the treatment of chills and fevers[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
].

Other Uses

The roots have been used as splints in basketry[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
].

The yellow-brown wood is smooth-textured, fine and straight grained. It is strong, elastic and highly durable; it works well, takes a good polish. A highly attractive wood of good quality, it has a a fragrance similar to that of sandalwood. Little if at all used at present due to low population levels, the wood was historically used for making cabinets, wooden turnware, novelty items, bows and for fenceposts[
1050
Title
Fire Effects Information System
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.feis-crs.org/feis/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line information site with comprehensive information on over 1,100 species of plant. Mainly developed to supply information on the effects of fire on plants and animals, it also contains a wealth of other information on the plants
]. The wood is very durable - trunks of trees that were cut over 100 years ago have been found lying on the ground with little rot[
82
Title
Manual of the Trees of N. America.
Publication
 
Author
Sargent. C. S.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/
Publisher
Dover Publications Inc. New York.
Year
1965
ISBN
0-486-20278-X
Description
Two volumes, a comprehensive listing of N. American trees though a bit out of date now. Good details on habitats, some details on plant uses. Not really for the casual reader. It can be downloaded from the internet.
,
229
Title
The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History.
Publication
 
Author
Elias. T.
Publisher
Van Nostrand Reinhold Co.
Year
1980
ISBN
0442238622
Description
A very good concise guide. Gives habitats, good descriptions, maps showing distribution and a few of the uses. It also includes the many shrubs that occasionally reach tree proportions.
,
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
,
1050
Title
Fire Effects Information System
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.feis-crs.org/feis/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line information site with comprehensive information on over 1,100 species of plant. Mainly developed to supply information on the effects of fire on plants and animals, it also contains a wealth of other information on the plants
].
The wood has been used for fuel[
1050
Title
Fire Effects Information System
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.feis-crs.org/feis/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line information site with comprehensive information on over 1,100 species of plant. Mainly developed to supply information on the effects of fire on plants and animals, it also contains a wealth of other information on the plants
].

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
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
]. Cuttings do not grow well[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
].
Layering.
Cite as: Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2018-10-18. <temperate.theferns.info/plant/Torreya+californica>

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