Indemic to forested areas of California, California nutmeg is not related to the spice nutmeg, Myristica fragrans. It is similar, however, to some of the plum yews and podocarps in regard to its foliage and fruit. The persistent leaves are linear, 1-3 inches long, dark yellowish-green maturing to reddish brown and have a shiny upper surface and two distinctive white bands on the lower surface. Sharp spines emerge from the tips of the leaves and a pungent odor results when the leaves are crushed. The fruit is drupe-like, similar to an olive, with a fleshy green covering over a thick walled seed. Male cones are larger than female cones and are on different plants. The crown of the tree is conical or rounded and the branches occur in open whorls and may be somewhat drooping. The thin, smooth bark is grayish brown tinged with orange. Californai nutmeg is grown as an ornamental tree. It grows best where temperatures are cool but tolerates some heat.
Type: Evergreen tree
Outstanding Feature: Foliage
Form: Broadly conical becoming rounded with age
Growth Rate: Slow
Bloom: Male and female cones are produced on different trees; pollination in spring
Size: 40-100’ H x 20-40’ W
Light: Shade to partial shade
Soil: Moist, well-drained
Hardiness: Zones 7
Care: Low maintence
Pests and Diseases: None of significance
Propagation: Seed (with 9-12 months stratification).