Torreya nucifera
Common Name: Japanese nutmeg-yew
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Taxaceae
Native Range: Japan
Zone: 6 to 10
Height: 15.00 to 30.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge
Leaf: Fragrant, Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest


Best grown in moist, rich, slightly acidic, well-drained soils in part shade. Tolerates full sun in cool summer climates. Do not allow soils to dry out. Not reliably winter hardy in the St. Louis area where it should be sited in a location protected from winter winds. Solitary plants usually do not produce berry-like cones.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Japanese torreya (also Japanese nutmeg tree) is a yew-like, evergreen conifer that, in cultivation, typically grows as a small tree to 15-30’ with a broad pyramidal habit. In its native habitat, however, it may reach 75’ tall. It may also appear as a large multi-stemmed shrub. It is a slow-growing conifer that features stiff, linear, needle-like, glossy dark green leaves (to 1.5” long) in 2 ranks. Foliage is pleasantly fragrant when bruised. Ellipsoidal fruits (to 1.5” long) are olive-green, ripening in the second year with purple tinging. Fruit is a single seed completely covered by a fleshy aril. Seeds are edible with a somewhat resinous taste. They can be eaten raw or used in confectionary. Also used to produce an edible oil used in cooking. Genus honors John Torreya (1796-1873), American botanist and chemist.


No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Specimen around the home. Screen or hedge. Backgrounds.