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Taxus spp.

Family: Taxaceae

  • there are several species, each found in different part of the world
  • Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidata) is commonly used for landscaping and is seen in the Northeastern United States
Yew Shrub
  • evergreen shrub or small tree
  • slow growing and long-lived
  • twigs are smooth, reddish-brown, and very hard
  • arils (red berry-like structures) contain seeds that are poisonous to animals; human stomachs can break down the seed coat and therefore are not harmed by consumption of arils
shrub form
Yew Needles
  • needles are 1-3 cm or ¾ - 1 inch long and flat
  • dark green on both sides
  • crushed foliage as a mild odor
Yew Modified Cone
Modified Cones:
  • female plants have a highly modified cone containing one brown seed
  • a soft, bright red, berry-like structure called an aril forms around the cone, leaving the brown seed visible on one end
modified cone
Yew Tree

The best part of the yew tree from which to make a bow is the sapwood, found just under the bark, combined with just a small portion of the heartwood. The sapwood resists stretching, and the heart wood resists compression.

tree form

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