Torreya, a genus of evergreen coniferous trees, named by Arnott in honor of Dr. John Torrey, from specimens collected in Florida by the late Mr. Croom. It belongs to the yew tribe of conifers, in which the fruit does not form a proper cone, but becomes a sort of fleshy fruit or drupe. The Florida species, T. taxi-folia, is confined to a rather limited locality near Aspalaga, on the Appalachicola river, in middle Florida; it is 20 to 40 ft. high, with a trunk 6 to 18 in. through, and has much the general aspect of the common hemlock spruce (allies Canadensis). There was formerly a considerable forest of Torreyas, but all the trees not growing in inaccessible ravines have been used for lumber and steamboat fuel. The leaves, mostly in two rows, are about 1½ in long, thick, rigid, sharp-pointed, and rather light green; the flowers are dioecious, the fertile ones bearing a drupe about the size and shape of a small olive, consisting of a hard nut surrounded by a thin pulp. The wood, which is very durable, gives off when sawed or burned a strong terebin-thinate and somewhat unpleasant odor, on which account it was called in Florida "stinking cedar." The tree has proved hardy in the latitude of New York. - Not long after the discovery of the original species, Siebold and Zuccarini described T. nucifera, discovered in northern Japan, but cultivated in all parts of that country, where the oil obtained from its seeds is used for culinary purposes.
Another species, discovered by Fortune in the mountains of northern China, and described as T. grandis, is a large fine tree, possibly not belonging to this genus. Among the wonderful stories told about California in the early days of its present era was the discovery of the nutmeg tree growing wild in the mountains, and the tree was mentioned as myristica Californica; materials were sent to Dr. Torrey, who found it to be a new species of the genus bearing his name, and he described it as T. Californica. It grows from 40 to 50 ft. high, and has a smooth bark, and leaves from 2 to 2½ in. long; the nut bears much similarity in size and shape to the nutmeg, and the ruminated albumen shown when it is cut adds to a resemblance that is not borne out by the taste, which is that of turpentine. Another species is mentioned as having been found in the Bogota Andes, though little is known about it. The Torreyas flourish well in England, but trees of other than the Florida species have not been sufficiently tested to know how they will succeed in our Atlantic states.
Torreya taxifolia. Leaves half the natural size; staminate and pistillate ameuts enlarged; fruit and a section reduced.