Classical Latin Taxus - yew, Greek eidos - semblance.
Mostly fast-growing evergreen or deciduous trees. Buds without scales. Branches often shed from the base of the trunk as the tree ages. Leaves evergreen or deciduous, mostly spirally arranged (opposite in Metasequoia), spiny and incurved or in feathery two-ranked sprays, sometimes needle-like, occasionally scale-like, but appearance may vary with the age of the tree. Plants mostly unisexual. Male cones small with 2-9 pollen sacs per scale. Female cones woody or leathery, with scales free at first, later fused, ripening in second year; ovules c. 2-9 per scale. Seeds mostly winged.
9 genera and 14 species from Northern Temperate to subtropical regions, mostly Asia and N America. Only 1 genus, the Tasmanian Athrotaxis occurs in the Southern Hemisphere.
Source: (1995). Taxodiaceae. In: . 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.