This species has a morphological similarity to Cephalotaxus fortunei when only sterile foliage is observed[
Torreya jackii is an evergreen shrub or a tree that can grow up to 12 metres tall. The bole can be up to 20cm in diameter[
The tree is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and source of materials.
This species occurs at much lower elevations than the other Torreya species and it will certainly have undergone significant reductions in the past 150 years (three generations) due to habitat clearance for expanding agriculture and general clearance of all such habitat in the past. Most of the plants are reported to be fairly small which seems unusual for a Torreya species, hence it is likely that the larger specimens have all been logged and what we are seeing today are generally younger trees. It is suspected that the population reduction has exceeded 50%. Due to the logging ban (as of 2001) and declaration of a number of nature reserves, the decline may continue at a lower rate. The plant is classified as 'Endangered' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
E. Asia - southeast China.
Evergreen broad-leaved forest, along streams, on steep slopes in shade or in secondary vegetation usually near moisture; at elevations from 120 - 1,320 metres[
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Torreya jackii is a species of warm temperate to subtropical regions in a monsoonal climate with an annual precipitation of 1,350 - 1,600mm and a mean annual temperature of 17 - 20°c, with absolute minimum of -10°c[
]. A fairly cold hardy species when dormant, it can tolerate occasional temperatures falling to between -12.1°c and -6.7°c[
]. This species is not very hardy in Britain, though trees can be grown outdoors in the milder parts of the country[
Succeeds in ordinary garden soil, tolerating some lime[
]. The plant grows in the wild on acidic mountain yellow earth or rocky granitic or rhyolitic substrates with a low pH of 4.2 - 5, with good access to ground water or seepage[
]. Requires a sheltered position and either high humidity or a moist riverside soil[
]. Dislikes wind exposure[
]. Tolerates woodland shade very well[
]. Requires hot, very humid summers for best growth[
]. The roots have a fleshy cortex capable of water storage, enabling the species to withstand spells of drought[
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[
Torreya jackii is unlike the other Chinese members of the genus and is remarkably similar to Cephalotaxus fortunei, from which it can be distinguished by its sessile seed-bearing structures and by the peculiar, strongly twisted leaf arrangement[
The seed takes two summers to mature[
Plants are dioecious, but sometimes monoecious with dioecious branches. Male and female plants must usually be grown if seed is required.
]. No more details are given but it is likely that the seed can be eaten raw or cooked and is rich in oil.
An edible oil is obtained from the seed[
Chemicals are extracted from the leaves and bark for treating cancer[
The leaves are very aromatic when bruised or burned, giving off a fragrance like sandalwood oil[
The wood is very fragrant. It is used to make agricultural implements, utensils, and handicrafts[
The wood is used for fuel[
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[
]. Cuttings do not grow well[