The Japanese yew is a highly sought after ornamental shrub native to Japan, Korea, and some other countries in the region. It is very tolerant to pruning and is ideal for use as a hedge, backdrop for a garden, and in its native regions, particularly Japan as a bonsai tree.
|Scientific Name||Taxus cuspidata|
|Also known as||Spreading Yew, Upright Yew (in the United States), Spreading Japanese Plum Yew, Ichi-i (in Japanese)|
|Similar to||English Yew|
|Size||A variety of sizes; dwarf Japanese Yew hardly grows taller than about 2.5 feet; an upright Japanese Yew may grow more than 50 feet|
|Leaves (Needles)||Lanceolate, flat and of dark green color; 1-3 cm in length and 2-3 cm broad; arranged spirally on the stem|
|Flowers||Form on the previous years’ wood, blooming between March and April; dioecious in nature and insignificant in adding to the plant’s ornamental qualities|
|Fruits||Toxins called Taxine A and B are present; can be fatally poisonous to dogs, cats, cattle, horses, and humans|
|Distribution/Range||Japan, Korea, Northeast China and the extreme southeastern regions of Russia; also found in North America|
|Lifespan||If undisturbed, it can live for many centuries|
|Growing Conditions||Winter Conditions – Does not do well in extreme cold and snow
Summer Conditions – Best place for a Japanese yew during summer is one with morning sun and afternoon shade
Soil – Any well-drained soil, whether acidic or alkaline
Sunlight – Tolerant of full sun, part sun or part shade; trees tend to grow slowly when in the shade
Watering – Needs a moderate amount of precipitation
|Seed Production||A hard seed, covered by a red berry-like formation called an aril, which ripens between September and November|
|Seedling Development||Seeds germinate easily but slowly|
|Wildlife Value||Attracts white-tailed deer, cardinals, waxwings, and thrushes, which like to devour the poisonous berries|
|Uses||Its wood is used in making furniture, buildings (in Japan) and arts and sculptures|
|IUCN Conservation Status||Least Concern|
- Astonishingly, the oldest Japanese Yews in the Sikhote-Alin region of Russia are believed to be over 1000 years old.
- It is one of the most durable of trees, impervious to pollution and bad weather that other coniferous trees may not be able to withstand.