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Taxus canadensis - Marshall.

Common Name Canadian Yew
Family Taxaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards All parts of the plant, except the flesh of the fruit, are highly poisonous[1, 4, 7, 10, 19, 65].
Habitats An understory shrub in rich forests (deciduous, mixed, or coniferous), bogs, swamps, gorges, ravine slopes, and rocky banks from sea level to 1500 metres[270].
Range Eastern N. America - Newfoundland to Western Virginia, Manitoba, Kentucky and Iowa.
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 canadensis Canadian Yew


Taxus canadensis Canadian Yew
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. Illustrated flora of the northern states and Canada. Vol. 1: 67.

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Taxus canadensis is an evergreen Tree growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 1.5 m (5ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year, and the seeds ripen from September to November. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) 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

Habitats

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

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit.
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw[43, 46, 61, 105]. 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]. 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.

Abortifacient;  Analgesic;  Antirheumatic;  Cancer;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  Emmenagogue;  Febrifuge.


The Canadian yew is a very poisonous plant, though it was employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes who used minute amounts of the leaves both internally and externally in order to treat a variety of complaints including rheumatism, fevers, influenza, expelling afterbirth and dispelling clots[213, 222, 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[222, 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. The plant is abortifacient, analgesic, antirheumatic, antitumor, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge and pectoral[257].

Other Uses

Dye.

A green dye can be obtained from the leaves[257].

Cultivation details

Thrives in almost any soil, acid or alkaline, as long as it is well-drained[200]. Plants are very shade tolerant82]. This species is the most cold-hardy member of the genus[11] - dormant plants will tolerate very heavy frosts though the young growth in spring can be damaged by a few degrees of frost. The plants produce very little fibrous root and should be planted in their final positions when still small[81]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Other reports say that this species usually has monoecious flowers (separate male and female flowers, but both borne on the same plant)[82, 270].

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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 brevifoliaPacific Yew34
Taxus cuspidataJapanese Yew34
Taxus x mediaAnglojapanese Yew34

 

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Expert comment

Author

Marshall.

Botanical References

11200270

Links / References

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

Readers comment

Rich   Fri Jan 10 09:40:14 2003

Richard Daigle wrote: > In the Taxus canadensis description, you write "An evergreen tree growing to 6m at a slow rate". Where did you see a 6 m high specimen of Taxus canadensis? I am pretty sure this information is erroneous. Please answer my email.

Ken Fern wrote: Thanks for your communication. This one was a mistake by me - guess who got his metres mixed up with his feet! The entry has now been amended, though I am not sure when the on-line version of the database will be changed since I do not handle this.

Jose   Tue Sep 12 2006

We have Taxus Canadensis here at Acadia University, Nova Scotia, which are easily 3 m tall, if not as tall as 4-5m. Many residential buildings in the area have abundant 3m+ Taxus Canadensis. I am pretty sure they are Taxus Canadensis and not Taxus bacatta because I just came back from England and I visited a couple of Taxus bacatta groves. Those can grow big.

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