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Toxic parts

All parts of the plant, except the flesh of the fruit, are highly poisonous, having a paralyzing affect on the heart[1][2][3][4][5][6].

Edible uses


Fruit - raw[1][7][6][8][9]. Very sweet and gelatinous, most people find it delicious though some find it sickly[K]. A number of people who like the flavour do not like the texture which is often described as being 'snotty'[K]. All other parts of this plant, including the seed, are highly poisonous. When eating the fruit you should spit out the large seed found in the fruit's centre. Should you swallow the whole seed it will just pass straight through you without harm. If it is bitten into, however, you will notice a very bitter flavour and the seed should immediately be spat out or it could cause some problems. The fruit is a fleshy berry about 10mm in diameter and containing a single seed[10]. Some reports suggest using the bark as a tea substitute[9][11], this would probably be very unwise.


Unknown part


Material uses

Very tolerant of trimming, this plant makes an excellent hedge[1][12][13]. The plants are often used in topiary and even when fairly old, the trees can be cut back into old wood and will resprout[10]. One report says that trees up to 1000 years old respond well to trimming[10].

A decoction of the leaves is used as an insecticide[14][15]. Some cultivars can be grown as a ground cover when planted about 1 metre or more apart each way[16]. 'Repandens' has been recommended[16]. Wood - heavy, hard, durable, elastic, takes a good polish but requires long seasoning. Highly esteemed by cabinet makers, it is also used for bows, tool handles etc[2][3][12][14][15][17][18]. It makes a good firewood[19].

The wood is burnt as an incense[18].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The yew tree is a highly toxic plant that has occasionally been used medicinally, mainly in the treatment of chest complaints. Modern research has shown that the plants contain the substance 'taxol' in their shoots. Taxol has shown exciting potential as an anti-cancer drug, particularly in the treatment of ovarian cancers[20]. Unfortunately, the concentrations of taxol in this species are too low to be of much value commercially, though it is being used for research purposes[20]. This remedy should be used with great caution and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[21]. See also the notes above on toxicity.

All parts of the plant, except the fleshy fruit, are antispasmodic, cardiotonic, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, narcotic and purgative[3][21]. The leaves have been used internally in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis, hiccup, indigestion, rheumatism and epilepsy[22][23]. Externally, the leaves have been used in a steam bath as a treatment for rheumatism[23].

A homeopathic remedy is made from the young shoots and the berries[2]. It is used in the treatment of many diseases including cystitis, eruptions, headaches, heart and kidney problems, rheumatism etc[2].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Secondary canopy or Soil surface

Ecological Functions

Ground cover



Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - can be very slow to germinate, often taking 2 or more years[24][25]. It is best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn when it should germinate 18 months later. Stored seed may take 2 years or more to germinate. 4 months warm followed by 4 months cold stratification may help reduce the germination time[26]. Harvesting the seed 'green' (when fully developed but before it has dried on the plant) and then sowing it immediately has not been found to reduce the germination time because the inhibiting factors develop too early[25]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and grow them on in pots in a cold frame. The seedlings are very slow-growing and will probably require at least 2 years of pot cultivation before being large enough to plant out. Any planting out is best done in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts[K].

Cuttings of half-ripe terminal shoots, 5 - 8cm long, July/August in a shaded frame. Should root by late September but leave them in the frame over winter and plant out in late spring[24]. High percentage[12].

Cuttings of ripe terminal shoots, taken in winter after a hard frost, in a shaded frame[26].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Taxus baccata. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


A very easy plant to grow, it is extremely tolerant of cold and heat, sunny and shady positions, wet and dry soils, exposure and any pH[10]. Thrives in almost any soil, acid or alkaline, as long as it is well-drained[1][12][10]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Sensitive to soil compaction by roads etc[27][10]. Very shade tolerant[28][8]. Tolerates urban pollution[10]. In general they are very tolerant of exposure, though plants are damaged by severe maritime exposure[K].

A very cold hardy plant when dormant, tolerating temperatures down to about -25°c[10]. The fresh young shoots in spring, however, can be damaged by frosts[186, K]. Plants are dioecious, though they sometimes change sex and monoecious trees are sometimes found[8][27]. Male and female trees must be grown if fruit and seed is required[K]. The fruit is produced mainly on the undersides of one-year old branches[10]. A very long lived tree[1][3][12][29], one report suggests that a tree in Perthshire is 1500 years old, making it the oldest plant in Britain. Another report says that trees can be up to 4000 years old[12]. It is, however, slow growing and usually takes about 20 years to reach a height of 4.5 metres[27]. Young plants occasionally grow 30cm in a year but this soon tails off and virtually no height increase is made after 100 years[29]. A very ornamental tree, there are many named varieties[10]. Very resistant to honey fungus[30][31][10], but susceptible to phytopthera root rot[8][31]. The bark is very soft and branches or even the whole tree can be killed if the bark is removed by constant friction such as by children climbing the tree[27]. Plants produce very little fibrous root and should be planted in their final positions when still small[10].

The fruit is greatly relished by thrushes[27].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Taxus baccata. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Taxus baccata.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Taxus baccata
Imported References
Medicinal uses
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
permanent shade
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Drought
  • Strong wind
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
Flower Colour
Flower Type

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"image:Yew Berries.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Yew Berries.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Yew Berries.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Yew Berries.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

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  1. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
  2. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
  3. ? Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
  4. ? Altmann. H. Poisonous Plants and Animals. Chatto and Windus ISBN 0-7011-2526-8 (1980-00-00)
  5. ? Stary. F. Poisonous Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-35666-3 (1983-00-00)
  6. ? Frohne. D. and Pf?nder. J. A Colour Atlas of Poisonous Plants. Wolfe ISBN 0723408394 (1984-00-00)
  7. ? 7.07.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
  8. ? Rushforth. K. Conifers. Christopher Helm ISBN 0-7470-2801-X (1987-00-00)
  9. ? Gupta. B. L. Forest Flora of Chakrata, Dehra Dun and Saharanpur. Forest Research Institute Press (1945-00-00)
  10. ? 10.0010.0110.0210.0310.0410.0510.0610.0710.0810.0910.1010.1110.1210.1310.14 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  11. ? 11.011.1 Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
  12. ? Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
  13. ? 13.013.1 Shepherd. F.W. Hedges and Screens. Royal Horticultural Society. ISBN 0900629649 (1974-00-00)
  14. ? Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
  15. ? Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
  16. ? Thomas. G. S. Plants for Ground Cover J. M. Dent & Sons ISBN 0-460-12609-1 (1990-00-00)
  17. ? 17.017.1 Freethy. R. From Agar to Zenery. The Crowood Press ISBN 0-946284-51-2 (1985-00-00)
  18. ? Gamble. J. S. A Manual of Indian Timbers. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh (1972-00-00)
  19. ? 19.019.1 Mabey. R. Plants with a Purpose. Fontana ISBN 0-00-635555-2 (1979-00-00)
  20. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
  21. ? Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
  22. ? 22.022.1 Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (1986-00-00)
  23. ? Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
  24. ? 24.024.1 Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co (1948-00-00)
  25. ? 25.025.1 McMillan-Browse. P. Hardy Woody Plants from Seed. Grower Books ISBN 0-901361-21-6 (1985-00-00)
  26. ? 26.026.1 Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation. Athens Ga. Varsity Press ISBN 0942375009 (1987-00-00)
  27. ? Beckett. G. and K. Planting Native Trees and Shrubs. Jarrold (1979-00-00)
  28. ? 28.028.1 Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press (1962-00-00)
  29. ? 29.029.1 Mitchell. A. F. Conifers in the British Isles. HMSO ISBN 0-11-710012-9 (1975-00-00)
  30. ? Ceres. Free for All. Thorsons Publishers ISBN 0-7225-0445-4 (1977-00-00)
  31. ? 31.031.1 RHS. The Garden. Volume 112. Royal Horticultural Society (1987-00-00)

"image:Yew Berries.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

Facts about "Taxus baccata"RDF feed
Article is incompleteYes +
Article requires citationsNo +
Article requires cleanupYes +
Belongs to familyTaxaceae +
Belongs to genusTaxus +
Functions asGround cover + and Hedge +
Has common nameYew +
Has drought toleranceTolerant +
Has edible partFruit + and Unknown part +
Has edible useUnknown use + and Tea +
Has environmental toleranceHigh wind + and Drought +
Has fertility typeSelf sterile + and Wind +
Has flowers of typeDioecious +
Has growth rateSlow +
Has hardiness zone6 +
Has imageYew Berries.jpg +
Has lifecycle typePerennial +
Has material partUnknown part +
Has material useFuel +, Incense +, Insecticide + and Wood +
Has mature height15 +
Has mature width10 +
Has medicinal partUnknown part +
Has medicinal useAntispasmodic +, Cancer +, Cardiotonic +, Diaphoretic +, Emmenagogue +, Expectorant +, Homeopathy +, Narcotic + and Purgative +
Has primary imageYew Berries.jpg +
Has search nametaxus baccata + and x +
Has shade tolerancePermanent shade +
Has soil ph preferenceVery acid +, Acid +, Neutral +, Alkaline + and Very alkaline +
Has soil teclayture preferenceClay +
Has soil teheavy clayture preferenceHeavy clay +
Has soil teloamyture preferenceLoamy +
Has soil tesandyture preferenceSandy +
Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
Has sun preferenceFull sun +
Has taxonomy nameTaxus baccata +
Has water requirementsmoderate +
Inhabits ecosystem nicheSecondary canopy + and Soil surface +
Is deciduous or evergreenEvergreen +
Is herbaceous or woodyWoody +
Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
Tolerates windYes +
Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +