The Pacific Yew is an evergreen coniferous tree which comes in small to medium sizes appearing somewhat like a large shrub. It is a native North American tree mainly found in moist, shady regions, and in the underlying layers of vegetation in dense forests.
|Scientific name||Taxus brevifolia|
|Other Names||Western yew, Yew brush, Yew, Mountain Mahogany|
|Identification||Height: 30-50 ft (10-15 m) tall
Trunk Diameter: 50 cm
Leaves (needles): Spirally arranged, 1 to 3 cm long, 2 to 3 mm broad
Seed cones: Single seed 4-7 mm long, develops into berry called aril, 8-15 mm long, wide with an open end. They mature 6-9 months post pollination
Male Cones: Spherical, 3-6 mm diameter
Bark: Scale-like, papery thin, brown to purplish in color
|Fruits||Toxic, contain Taxine alkaloids(A & B); fatally poisonous for humans, horses, cattle and pigs|
|Distribution/Range||Pacific Northwest of North America, British Columbia, Vancouver Island, Southeast Alaska, central California, and Idaho|
|Lifespan||Long-lived (300 years)|
|Growing Conditions||Summer conditions: Warm, dry summer
Winter conditions: Mild, wet winters with tolerance to frost
Rainfall: Can survive flooding and brief deluge
Sunlight: Tolerant to direct sunlight
Soil: Grows best on rocky, gravelly, moist, rich, deep soil including Ultisols, Alfisols, and Inceptisols
|Diseases and Pests||Inclination to rot from within, creating hollow forms; no leaf disease, localized damage caused by blight|
|Flowering/Fruiting||May or June|
|Seed development||Germinate slowly; 30°C day temperature and 20°C night temperature is desirable|
|Seed Production||Ripening of fruit takes place from August to October in the same year of flowering|
|Wildlife Value||Offer food and cover to many wild species such as deer, elk, and moose|
|Cultivars/Varieties||cv erecta, cv nana, cv nutallii; Taxus brevifolia var. reptaneta, Taxus brevifolia var. polychaeta|
|Uses||Wood is used in lumber industry and for manufacturing various items like canoe paddles, gunstocks, carved figurines, furniture, musical instruments, bow staves, etc.|
|IUCN Conservation Status||Near Threatened|
- Pacific yew has great medical importance since it contains a drug Taxol, which is being used for Cancer medicine Research.
- It is an attractive ornamental tree and is frequently used as a hedge plant.
- Pacific yew wood was used by the Native Americans to make warring, fishing, and hunting tools.