Plant Guide > Trees > Torreyas



Genus TUMION, Raf.

Ornamental evergreens, with spreading, usually whorled branches and ill-smelling sap. Leaves 2-ranked, linear, with paler linings. Flowers dioecious (rarely monoecious), scaly at base. Fruit like a plum; seed large, solitary. Wood hard, durable, strong, close grained.

The Torreyas, close relatives of the yews, are yet little known outside their native ranges, though they are coming into cultivation in the warmer parts of the country. They are objectionable only on account of the bad odour of their leaves when bruised.

The tree habit is symmetrically pyramidal, the whorled limbs pendulous, and the foliage handsome. The trees furnish some fence posts. The wood is very durable in wet soil, which is their
chosen habitat.

Torreyas are propagated from seeds and by cuttings. The
latter grow slowly, producing plants that remain low and bushy for years. The Florida species has proved hardy in sheltered situations as far north as Boston, but the Californian cannot survive the cold of this high latitude.

The Japanese Torreya promises more hardiness than our native species, and more beauty in cultivation. In habit it is compact with erect limbs, quite different from the pendulouslimbed natives. The bright red bark adds to its beauty, as also does the breadth and fine shape of the lanceolate leaves. In Japan this tree is highly prized for its wood, which is used in cabinet work and building. A Chinese species, T. grandis, resembling the Japanese, is said to lack the disagreeable odour of the other species.

California Nutmeg Torreya Tree
Florida Torreya Tree