Taxus L.

Yew

Classical Latin name.

Small to medium sized trees; cultivars occasionally shrub-like. Branchlets more or less alternate. Leaves flattened, linear, slightly sickle-shaped and with prominent midribs. Plants mostly unisexual. Male cones solitary, stalked. Female cones consisting of several overlapping pairs of scales, the uppermost fertile. Seeds partly enclosed within a fleshy, usually red, covering and ripening in one year.

Poisonous to stock through the chemical taxine. The North American T. brevifolia Nuttall, recently used for cancer research, is under cultivation in several specialist collections.

c. 10 species from Northern Temperate to equatorial mountain areas.

Wood used commercially; taxine is being investigated in cancer research.

Seeds enclosed in fleshy scarlet cups. Taxus may be confused with Cephalotaxus, however the latter has most leaves considerably longer than 2.5-3 cm and with white, not pale green, bands beneath and bud scales that are pointed, while those of Taxus have a small point at the tip but are essentially blunt.

Chadwick & Keen (1976). POPULAR: Hartzell (1991); Baxter (1992).

Source: Spencer, R. (1995). Taxaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 1, Ferns, conifers & their allies. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

Hero image
kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Pinopsida
order     Pinales
family      Taxaceae
Higher taxa
Subordinate taxa
species        Taxus baccata L.
species        Taxus cuspidata Siebold & Zucc.
species        Taxus √ómedia Rehder