California Nutmeg, California Torreya

Torreya californica

California nutmeg is a lovely and seldom-grown conifer that is usually found growing as an understory tree. The largest specimens are now found in northern California and Oregon, and the tree grows from 20 to 60' tall, though slowly. Deep-green prickly needles are sparsely distributed. Indigenous peoples used the  wood for bows and ate the seeds, which have a lovely nutmeg-like fragrance and appearance.

It only grows in California, either along the coast or on the foothills of the Sierra. It grows as far south as central California and can usually be grown where redwoods are happy.

This seed is for the patient; it can take up to 9 months to germinate, but is well worth the wait. Cold-stratify for 3 months, then sow in flats.

It is receiving attention as a specialty wood.