Torreya californica is an evergreen Tree growing to 15 m (49ft) by 8 m (26ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 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.
Torreya californica is a species of conifer endemic to California, occurring in the Pacific Coast Ranges and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. It is commonly known as California torreya or California nutmeg tree.
California nutmeg is an evergreen tree growing to 15–25 m tall, with a trunk diameter of 0.5–1 m (exceptionally 2 m); the crown is conical in overall shape, with whorled branches. The leaves are needle-like, stiff, sharp pointed, 3–5 cm long and 3 mm broad; they are arranged spirally, but twisted at the base to lie flat either side of the shoots.
The male (pollen) cones are 5–7 mm long, grouped in lines along the underside of a shoot. The female (seed) cones are single or grouped two to five together on a short stem; minute at first, they mature in about 18 months to a drupe-like structure with the single large nut-like seed 2.5–4 cm long surrounded by a fleshy covering, dark green to purple at full maturity in the fall.