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Native Plant Database

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Taxus brevifolia

Taxus brevifolia Nutt.

Pacific yew, Western yew

Taxaceae (Yew Family)

Synonym(s):

USDA Symbol: TABR2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N)

Pacific yew or western yew is a 15-50 ft., evergreen shrub or small tree with red-brown, scaly bark; horizontal, drooping branches and deep, yellow-green foliage in flat sprays. Poisonous, nonresinous, evergreen tree with angled trunk often twisted or irregular and with broad crown of slender, horizontal branches; sometimes shrubby.

The strong wood has been used for archery bows, poles, canoe paddles, and small cabinetwork; however, the limited supply and small dimensions restrict use. While most parts of yew plants, are deadly poisonous, the red, juicy cup around the seed is reported to be edible, provided the poisonous seed is not chewed or swallowed. Birds eat these cups and scatter the seeds.

 

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf: Gray-Green
Fruit: Brown
Size Class: 36-72 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Time: Jun , Jul

Distribution

USA: AK , CA , ID , MT , NV , OR , WA
Canada: AB , BC
Native Distribution: Extreme s.e. AK to c. CA & n.w. MT; historically in NV
Native Habitat: Damp, partly shady, mt. ravines below 7000 ft.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Moist soils.
Conditions Comments: Not Available

Benefit

Use Food: EDIBLE PARTS: The red arils, in small amounts, are edible. The green seed is toxic. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
Use Medicinal: Taxol (terpenoid) comes from the bark and is used to treat breast and ovarian cancer. Inhibits mitosis.
Warning: Bark, leaves, seed pit (red, fleshy surrounding part, called the aril, is OK to eat). Highly Toxic! May be Fatal if Eaten! Symptoms include nervousness, trembling, slow pulse, pupil dilation, difficult breathing, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, convulsions; may be fatal. Toxic Principle: Alkaloid taxine. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
Attracts: Birds

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

Region:AGCPAKAWCBEMPGPHIMWNCNEWMVE
Status: FACU FACU FACU
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA

Bibliography

Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 663 - Poisonous Plants of North Carolina (1994) Vondracek, W. ; L. Van Asch

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From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter1991 VOL. 8, NO.4 - A National Environmental Research Plan, Director's Report, Discover the Secrets ...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Taxus brevifolia in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Taxus brevifolia in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Taxus brevifolia

Metadata

Record Last Modified: 2008-02-19
Research By: TWC Staff

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