We need to raise £10,000 from user donations to get our finances in balance. More >>>

Follow Us:

 

Taxus brevifolia - Nutt.

Common Name Pacific Yew
Family Taxaceae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards All parts of the plant, except the flesh of the fruit, are highly poisonous[1, 4, 7, 10, 19, 65]. Another report says that the toxic alkaloid found in other yews, known as taxine, is not found in this species and that the toxicity of this species has not been conclusively proven[270]. Poisoning symptoms are dry mouth, vomiting, vertigo, abdominal pain, dyspnoea, arrhythmias, hypotension & unconsciousness.
Habitats Growing singly or in small clumps on the banks of mountain streams, in deep gorges and ravines, open or dense forests, especially under large coniferous trees from sea level to 2200 metres[82, 270].
Range Western N. America - Alaska to California.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Taxus brevifolia Pacific Yew


Susan McDougall @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
Taxus brevifolia Pacific Yew
Susan McDougall @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

 

Translate this page:

You can translate the content of this page by selecting a language in the select box.

Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Taxus brevifolia is an evergreen Tree growing to 15 m (49ft 3in) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from March to May, and the seeds ripen from September to November. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). and is pollinated by Wind. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.
It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

Synonyms

Taxus bourcieri Carrière. Taxus lindleyana A.Murray bis. Taxus occidentalis Nutt.

Habitats

Woodland Garden Secondary; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit.
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw[105, 161, 257]. Very sweet and gelatinous, most people find it delicious though some find it sickly[K]. The fruit is a fleshy berry about 8mm in diameter and containing a single seed[200]. Trees usually produce good crops every year[229]. All other parts of this plant, including the seed, are highly poisonous. When eating the fruit you should spit out the large seed found in the fruit's centre. Should you swallow the whole seed it will just pass straight through you without harm, if the seed has been bitten into, however, it could cause some problems.

Medicinal Uses



Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Cancer;  Diaphoretic;  Pectoral;  Poultice.

The Pacific yew is a highly toxic plant but it was employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints[257]. Modern research has shown that it contains the substance 'taxol' in its shoots and bark. Taxol has shown exciting potential as an anti-cancer drug, particularly in the treatment of ovarian cancers[238]. Unfortunately, the concentrations of taxol are rather low and the bark of 6 trees is required to provide enough taxol to treat one patient[238]. This remedy is very toxic and, even when used externally, should only be used under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[238]. See also the notes above on toxicity. All parts of the plant, except the fleshy fruit, are diaphoretic and pectoral[257]. A decoction of the branches and leaves has been used in the treatment of lung problems[257]. An infusion of the crushed leaves has been used externally as a wash to cause perspiration and effect a general improvement in the health[257]. A poultice of the crushed leaves has been applied to wounds[257]. A decoction of small woody pieces has been used in the treatment of internal complaints including stomach pains and blood in the urine[257]. The leaves are harvested in early autumn or spring, the bark from autumn to spring, for commercial extraction of taxol[238]. Ingestion of 50-100g of needles can cause death.

Other Uses

Paint;  Wood.

A red paint was made by mixing the woodchips with oil[226]. The roots have been used as the weft in twined basketry[257]. The root is very strong and is particularly good for hopper mortar baskets[257]. Wood - fine-grained, strong, hard, heavy, durable and resilient, taking a very fine polish. Though hard, the wood is easy to carve[226]. It is also used for making paddles, fence posts and various other small articles[46, 61, 82, 226, 229, 257].

Cultivation details

Management: Coppice;  Regional Crop.

Thrives in almost any soil, acid or alkaline, as long as it is well-drained[1, 200]. Succeeds in dry soils. Plants are very shade tolerant[81]. Dormant plants are very cold-hardy, though the young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. A slow-growing but apparently long-lived tree[229]. Plants produce very little fibrous root and should be planted in their final positions when still small[200]. Because of its useful wood, large trees are unscrupulously poached from the wild and, in some areas, the species has been nearly extirpated. Exploitation of the species for medicinal purposes is further threatening it in the wild[270].. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Propagation

Seed - can be very slow to germinate, often taking 2 or more years[78, 80]. It is best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn when it should germinate 18 months later. Stored seed may take 2 years or more to germinate. 4 months warm followed by 4 months cold stratification may help reduce the germination time[113]. Harvesting the seed 'green' (when fully developed but before it has dried on the plant) and then sowing it immediately has not been found to reduce the germination time because the inhibiting factors develop too early[80]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and grow them on in pots in a cold frame. The seedlings are very slow-growing and will probably require at least 2 years of pot cultivation before being large enough to plant out. Any planting out is best done in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts[K]. Cuttings of half-ripe terminal shoots, 5 - 8cm long, July/August in a shaded frame. Should root by late September but leave them in the frame over winter and plant out in late spring[78]. High percentage[11]. Cuttings of ripe terminal shoots, taken in winter after a hard frost, in a shaded frame[113].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Cephalotaxus fortuneiChinese Plum Yew51
Cephalotaxus harringtoniaJapanese Plum Yew50
Cephalotaxus harringtonia drupaceaJapanese Plum Yew50
Cephalotaxus harringtonia koreanaKorean Plum Yew50
Cephalotaxus harringtonia nanaJapanese Plum Yew50
Cephalotaxus lanceolataYunnan Plum Yew40
Cephalotaxus oliveri 30
Cephalotaxus sinensisChinese Plum Yew41
Cephalotaxus wilsoniana 40
Taxus baccataYew, English yew, Common Yew34
Taxus canadensisCanadian Yew34
Taxus cuspidataJapanese Yew34
Taxus x mediaAnglojapanese Yew34

 

Print Friendly and PDF

Expert comment

Author

Nutt.

Botanical References

1182200

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

yaswanth   Mon Mar 3 2008

its nice if pharmacological action is included

david   Sat Sep 19 2009

I have yew tree in my property, about 20 to 30 feet tall and I would like to relocate it about 200 feet, in the other side of the property. What are the chances for this tree to survive?

   Sun Oct 11 2009

y plants

QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.

2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.

3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the pfaf.org website on their phone.

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at admin@pfaf.org. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Taxus brevifolia  
All the information contained in these pages is Copyright (C) Plants For A Future, 1996-2012.
Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567,
Web Design & Management
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Some information cannot be used for commercial reasons or be modified (but some can). Please view the copyright link for more information.