A small family of slow-growing small to medium-sized evergreen shrubs or, more rarely, trees. Branches opposite or whorled. Leaves linear, spirally arranged but sometimes forming two ranks; margins curled under; midrib conspicuous; leaf base extending down the stem. Male and female plants usually separate. Male cones in more or less spherical, stalked, axillary clusters with several scales. Female cones small, stalked and axillary with two ovules in each bract. Fruit large, fleshy and olive-like with one seed developing on each scale. Seeds large, unwinged and with a tough shell.
The genus Amentotaxus, Catkin Yew, comprises 4-5 species with male cones in a branched spike; it is found in a few collections.
2 genera and c. 11 species from E Asia growing naturally in warm to cool temperate moist areas at moderate elevation.
Seeds or short cuttings.
The genus Cephalotaxus is vegetatively extremely similar to members of the families Taxaceae and Podocarpaceae; it differs from the Taxaceae chiefly in having longer, more pointed leaves and a fruit without an aril (a fleshy covering formed from the base of the ovule). From the Podocarpaceae it differs in technical characters of the cones but can generally be distinguished by the marked annual growth which has persistent scales and smaller leaves at the junction of annual growth increments.
Li (1952), Ferguson (1978).
Source: (1995). Cephalotaxaceae. 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.