Home page Contents Pinaceae Taxodiaceae Cupressaceae Araucariaceae Taxaceae Bibliography Plan
The family Taxaceae: Cephalotaxus Podocarpus Prumnopitys Taxus Torreya
Go to the Home Page

The genus Taxus - the Yews

Small trees with a widespread head of branches. Leaves in two ranks. Staminate strobili with peltate sporophylls. Seeds solitary, surrounded by a fleshy cup-like scarlet aril, ripening in one season. Plants usually unisexual. This genus may be regarded as consisting of a large number of varieties of one species or of a number of very closely related species. One of the only three conifers native in Britain.

(A)
Taxus baccata, L.
English Yew

Native to the British Isles, Europe, North Africa and West Asia, attaining a height of 60 feet. Grows in a wide range of habitats from chalky soil and limestone to peat and heavy loams. Much used for hedges and in topiary work as it tolerates frequent trimming. Very long-lived and some specimens are reputed to exceed the age of 1,000 years. The timber is very durable, but is not available in great quantity. The wood was once much used for making archers' bows. All parts are very poisonous, except the red fleshy aril; Yews should not be planted where their living or dead leaves can be eaten by livestock.

(S)
Taxus baccata var. adpressa, Carrière
Short-leaved English Yew

A variety with a distinct spreading habit and very short leaves, said to have been raised as a seedling at Chester in 1838.

Taxus baccata var. aurea, Carrière
Golden Yew

A shrub of compact habit, much grown for its foliage, the leaves very golden when young, turning to green at maturity.

Taxus baccata var. fastigiata, Loudon
Irish Yew

A variety with erect branches and columnar habit. It was originally found by a farmer in Fermanagh in 1780. After the Earl of Enniskillen made cuttings available to nurserymen in 1867, it has been much propagated vegetatively.


The family Taxaceae: Cephalotaxus | Podocarpus | Prumnopitys | Taxus | Torreya

Go to TOP of the document | Last modified: 28 April 2000 by S.C.Scarr