Taxus baccata
Common name: 
English Yew
TAKS-us ba-KA-ta
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Conifer, evergreen tree/shrub, wide spreading, 30-60 ft (9-18 m) high with a 15-25 ft (5-8 m) spread, densely branched, many forms.  Needles radially arranged around the stem but appearing more or less 2 ranked, 1-3 cm long, 1.5-6 mm wide, linear, tapering to a horny point, shining, very dark green on the upper surface, yellowish green below (lack a conspicuous stomatal band).   Usually dioecious, yellowish male strobili, arise on the axils of leaves on the underside of branches.  Fruits have a fleshy, scarlet, cup-shaped covering (aril) which is 8-15 mm long and open at the apex, it encloses a single seed.  Seeds are poisonous.
  • Sun or shade.  Tolerates many soil conditions, except strongly alkaline or acid soils.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone (5)6      Native to Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia; cultivated in England for over 1,000 years and many selections made.  If fact, shrubby cultivars are much more often used in landscaping than the species.  Here are a few cultivars:
    • 'Amersfoort'  -  dwarf shrub, upright irregular habit, slow growing, feaves flat, small, light to dark green 
    • 'Fastigiata'  -  (Irish Yew)  narrowly columnar or spindle-form, branches are rigidly upright; needles are dark green
    • 'Repandens'  -  dwarf, wide spreading form, 2-4 ft high (0.6-1.2 m),  branches horizontal, tips of branches pendulous
    • 'Repandens Aurea'  - variegated, low growing shrub, green leaves brightly edged with yellow-turning-to-cream
    • 'Standishii'  -  tree/shrub, columnar, compact, upright shoots, leaves golden-yellow above, light yellow-green below
  • Leaves, bark, and broken seeds are poisonous, although the toxicity varies from plant to plant.  Symptoms may include cardiac or respiratory failure.   The poisonous substances in yew are pseudo-alkaloids known as taxines. They are a mixture of polyhydroxyditerpines (taxinins) esterified with ß-dimethylamino-ß-phenylpropionic acid and/or acetic acid (Frohne, D. and H.J. Pfänder, 1984).
  • baccata: Latin, berry-bearing
  • Oregon State Univ. campus: lower campus, on 11th St. across from Dixon Lodge
Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit, shrub

    plant habit, shrub

  • plant habit, tree

    plant habit, tree

  • branches


  • leaves (needles) and fruit

    leaves (needles) and fruit

  • branchlets, leaves

    branchlets, leaves

  • branchlets, comparison with <i>Sequoia sempervirens</i>

    branchlets, comparison with Sequoia sempervirens

  • fruit and seeds

    fruit and seeds