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Cephalotaxus harringtonia is often confused with:
Taxus baccata
Native alternative(s) for Cephalotaxus harringtonia:
Juniperus communis var. depressa Juniperus comunis var. depressa
Taxus canadensis Form
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Loropetalum chinense Loropetalum chinense
Picea glauca 'Conica' Form
Salvia rosmarinus Rosmarinus officinalis

Japanese Plum-Yew Cephalotaxus harringtonia

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
sef-ah-loh-TAKS-us har-ring-TOH-nee-ah
This plant has medium severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Japanese plum-yew is an evergreen, needled shrub or small tree in the yew family (Taxaceae) and native to Asia. Its name is derived from the Greek words kephale and taxus meaning "head" and "yew" respectively, in reference to the hard, round seeds. The specific epithet harringtonia was given in recognition of the Earl of Harrington who became an early adopter and enthusiast of the species in the early 19th century.

Ideal for the southeastern United States, as it tolerates both the summer heat and humidity unlike other yews, it has a broad, shrubby habit with horizontal branches but can also be trained into a small tree. This plant prefers moist, well-drained soil but tolerates dry, sandy, or clay soil. Plant it in full sun if you have cool summers; otherwise, it needs partial shade and tolerates shade better than most other needled evergreens. Once established this plant is drought and heat-tolerant and deer resistant. Its texture is medium to fine, and this yew is normally wider than tall, reaching a height of 5 to 10 feet tall and about as wide.

This plant is a conifer. The species is dioecious plant, female plants require at least one male plant to produce seeds. It produces single, naked seeds that have a fleshy coat and that are similar in appearance to plums, Although plum-like in appearance, the seeds are not edible. The seeds and foliage of all of the plants in this botanical group are generally quite poisonous if ingested but are not dangerous to handle. See this site for further information: JC Raulston Arboretum 

Japanese plum-yew works well in a woodland or shade garden as an accent or planted in mass along a border. It makes an interesting change in the landscape from the typical junipers.  

Quick ID Hints:

  • Gymnosperm, linear leaves
  • Two white, glaucous bands on underside
  • Juvenile growth has leaves spirally arranged
  • Adult growth has a V-shaped leaf pattern on branch

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No significant problems.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Patio Room Hydrangeas in the Garden Sun and Shade Demonstration Garden, Buncombe County
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Duke Gardens', 'Fastigiata', 'Korean Gold', 'Mary Fleming', 'Prostrata'
Tags:
#evergreen#small tree#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#shrub#slow growing#shade garden#low maintenance#winter interest#mass planting#needled evergreen#deer resistant#border planting#fantz#humidity tolerant#sandy soils tolerant#clay soils tolerant#dry soils tolerant#partial shade tolerant#landscape plant sleuths course#accent#cpp
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Duke Gardens', 'Fastigiata', 'Korean Gold', 'Mary Fleming', 'Prostrata'
Tags:
#evergreen#small tree#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#shrub#slow growing#shade garden#low maintenance#winter interest#mass planting#needled evergreen#deer resistant#border planting#fantz#humidity tolerant#sandy soils tolerant#clay soils tolerant#dry soils tolerant#partial shade tolerant#landscape plant sleuths course#accent#cpp
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cephalotaxus
    Species:
    harringtonia
    Family:
    Taxaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Assam, China North-Central, China South-Central, China Southeast
    Wildlife Value:
    This plant is particularly resistant to damage by deer.
    Edibility:
    Not edible. Potentially toxic.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 5 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 5 ft. 0 in. - 14 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Perennial
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Very Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    3 feet-6 feet
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Olive-like, red fleshy seeds. They appear on female plants resembling small (up to 1") plums, a fleshy aril nearly surrounding the green seed. Male cones are clustered on last season's branches, globular.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Petals:
    Bracts
    Flower Description:
    Non-showy yellow pollen sacs enclosed in a cone on male plants. Female plants bear naked seeds.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Leaf Type:
    Fronds
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Other/more complex
    Whorled
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    0.5-1.2 in. feather-like needles, dark green leaves, linear with a sharp taper, spirally arranged in a v-shaped pattern. Lustrous underneath, holds color well in winter unless exposed to full sun and wind. Linear, spirally arranged (juvenile) to 2-ranked (adult) forming a V-shaped along branch, lower surface with 2 whitish glaucous bands.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Shade Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Shade Tree
    Small Tree
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Heat
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Medium
    Poison Symptoms:
    All plants in this botanical group are quite poisonous if ingested but are not dangerous to handle. Nervousness, trembling, slow pulse, pupil dilation, difficult breathing, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, convulsions; seizures, sudden death from acute heart failure if eaten in quantity.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Alkaloid taxine, Volatile oil
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Leaves
    Seeds