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

Torreya nucifera, commonly called Japanese nutmeg-yew or Japanese torreya, is a needled evergreen of the yew family that is native to Japan. It typically grows in cultivation as a large shrub or small tree to 15-30' tall with a broad pyramidal form, but may reach 75' tall in the wild in its native habitat. This is a slow-growing conifer that features stiff, linear, needle-like, glossy dark green leaves (to 1.5” long) in 2 ranks, with each leaf having two blue-white stomatal bands on the underside. 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 covered by a fleshy aril. Seeds are rich in oil and reportedly edible.

Genus name honors Dr. John Torrey (1796-1873), one of the giants of North American botany and co-author with Asa Gray of The Flora of North America.

Specific epithet means bearing nuts.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Specimen around the home. Screen or hedge. Backgrounds.