The Gymnosperm Database


T. californica in Sequoia National Park, CA [C.J. Earle, 2001.03.24].


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Arnott 1838

Common names

Torreya, stinking-cedar; 榧'属 fei shu shu [Chinese].

Taxonomic notes

A genus of six species:

Syn: Tumion Rafinesque (Hils 1993).


"Trees dioecious. Bark brown to grayish brown, tinged with orange, fissured. Branches spreading to drooping; twigs nearly opposite. Leaves mostly appearing 2-ranked, rigid; stomates abaxial, in 2 narrow, glaucous, whitish or brownish bands; apex sharp-pointed, spine-tipped, sharp to touch; resin canal central. Pollen cones ovoid or oblong, with 6 - 8 whorls of 4 sporophylls, each bearing 4 sporangia. Ovules 2, only 1 of each pair maturing. Seed maturing in 2 years; aril green or green with purple streaks, resinous, leathery, thin, completely enclosing woody seed coat, splitting into 2 parts at maturity; albumen ruminate. x = 11" (Hils 1993).

Distribution and Ecology

China; Japan; USA: California & Florida (Silba 1986).

Big tree






The genus began with the ca. 1838 discovery, by pioneering Southeastern botanist Harvey Croom, of Torreya taxifolia; the genus was named for John Torrey (1796-1873), one of the most celebrated U.S. botanists of the mid-19th century (Eifert 1965). Torrey himself was later (1854) to describe another species in the genus, Torreya californica.


Eifert, Virginia S. 1965. Tall trees and far horizons. New York: Dodd, Mead. 301 p.

See also

Buchholz, J.T. 1940. The embryogeny of Torreya, with a note on Austrotaxus. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 67:731-754.

Li, J., C.C. Davis, M.J. Donoghue, S. Kelley and P. Del Tredici. 2001. Phylogenetic relationships of Torreya (Taxaceae) inferred from sequences of nuclear ribosomal DNA ITS region. Harvard Papers in Botany 6: 275-281.

Burke 1975.

Last Modified 2017-12-29