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Taxus cuspidata

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
TAKS-us kus-pi-DAY-tuh
This plant has high severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

The Japanese Yew is native to Korea, China, Russia and Japan.  It was introduced to the US in 1833.  The word cuspidate, translates to prickly pointed, referring to the foliage which have sharp pointed tips. 

Heights of up to 50' have been recorded when grown in its natural habitat.  When grown as a landscape specimen, the heights will typically average around 25' when maintenance and pruning is completed on a regular basis.

In the landscape, it is an excellent choice for hedges and shaped as a topiary.  

The female plant does not produce cones.  It will have showy, red fruits that resemble a berry.  The fruits each contain one seed.  Birds frequent the fruits and spread the seed.    

Tolerant of urban conditions and drought, very cold hardy.

VIDEO Created by Elizabeth Meyer for "Trees, Shrubs and Conifers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Issues with winter burn can occur in locations where the plant is exposed.  Root rot can occur when the soil is not properly drained.  Twig blight and needle blight can also be a problem.  Insects affecting the plant include, mealybugs, scale and weevils.  

More information on Taxus.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Mountain Ridge Top Garden - East Lawn and Lower Drive Border
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • Aurescens
  • 'Capitata'
    More pyramidal shape, abundant fruit.
  • 'Densiformis'
    Spreading yew.
  • 'Dwarf Bright Gold'
    Height up to 6', new growth is golden yellow.
  • 'Nana Aurescens'
    Low-growing, new growth is a golden color.
Aurescens, 'Capitata', 'Densiformis', 'Dwarf Bright Gold', 'Nana Aurescens'
Tags:
#evergreen#hardy#poisonous#needles#shade garden#winter interest#rabbit resistant#cpp#needled evergreen#needled#cold tolerant#urban conditions tolerant#dry soils tolerant#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#wet soils intolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • Aurescens
  • 'Capitata'
    More pyramidal shape, abundant fruit.
  • 'Densiformis'
    Spreading yew.
  • 'Dwarf Bright Gold'
    Height up to 6', new growth is golden yellow.
  • 'Nana Aurescens'
    Low-growing, new growth is a golden color.
Aurescens, 'Capitata', 'Densiformis', 'Dwarf Bright Gold', 'Nana Aurescens'
Tags:
#evergreen#hardy#poisonous#needles#shade garden#winter interest#rabbit resistant#cpp#needled evergreen#needled#cold tolerant#urban conditions tolerant#dry soils tolerant#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#wet soils intolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Taxus
    Species:
    cuspidata
    Family:
    Taxaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Korea, China, Russia and Japan
    Wildlife Value:
    Birds are attracted to the fruits.
    Play Value:
    Buffer
    Easy to Grow
    Wildlife Food Source
    Edibility:
    Bark, leaves, seed pit (red, fleshy surrounding part, called the aril, is OK to eat)
    Dimensions:
    Height: 10 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 5 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Broad
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Vase
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
    Appendage:
    Spines
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    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:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The red arils, in small amounts, are edible. The green seed is toxic.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The needle like foliage is dark green with a yellow-tinged underside. It can turn a reddish-brown or yellow color in the winter.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Scaly
    Bark Description:
    Scaly reddish-brown bark.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Multistemmed.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Patio
    Walkways
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Barrier
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Rabbits
    Urban Conditions
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    High
    Poison Symptoms:
    Nervousness, trembling, slow pulse, pupil dilation, difficult breathing, seizures (dogs), abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, convulsions; may be fatal. Early signs: muscular tremors, dyspnea, seizures in dogs.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Alkaloid taxine
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Leaves
    Seeds