Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia Nutt.) is a long lived conifer in the Yew family. It usually grows between 20-40 feet, occasionally up to 75, and 1-2 feet in diameter. The bark is reddish purple and flakes off in irregular, thin patches. Flowers bloom
early summer, producing male and female cones on separate trees. Eventually, they develop into fleshy,
photo citation © 1995 Saint Mary's College of California
The Yew family consists mainly of evergreen shrubs and small trees with flat, linear needles. They are also gymnosperms meaning they bear naked seeds. The foliage and seeds of members in the Yew family are extremely poisonous both to people and livestock, and as such, care should be taken to ensure livestock cannot browse on Yew species. In both the past and modern times, people have died from eating the seeds and consuming teas made from the leaves. Yew trees are prized as ornamentals and for their wood, particularly in bow making.
Yew Family Trees of California
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Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia Nutt.)
Height: 20-40 ft
Diameter: 1-2 ft
Showy flower: no
Fall colors: no-evergreen
Drought tolerant: medium
Annual rainfall: 24-60
Soil Needs: moist, rich, well-draining
Frost Free Days: 140
Minimum Temperature (F): -18
State List: AK, CA, ID, MT, NV, OR,
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Native Yew Family Trees, Taxaceae
The state distribution maps in the species info boxes below are from the USDA NRCS PLANTS Database at plants.usda.gov. In instances where state specific maps are unavailable, the US distribution map will be used in its place. Also, the PLANTS Database website states "Our county data are based primarily on the literature, herbarium specimens,
and confirmed observations. However, not all populations have been documented, so some gaps in the distribution shown above may not be real. Remember that only native and naturalized populations are mapped!"