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Japanese Yew

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An extremely versatile small evergreen tree; the species itself is a dense pyramidal tree with deep green needles and characteristic red berries on female plants, takes pruning well, loves shade; numerous cultivars are available for specific applications

Characteristics

Species:
cuspidata
Average Landscape Height:
30 feet
Average Landscape Width:
20 feet
Genus:
Taxus
Branching:
decurrent
Evergreen:
1
Plant Form:
pyramidal
Canopy:
low
Density:
dense
Growth Rate:
slow
Pruning:
can prune at anytime
Summer Foliage Color:
dark green
Maximum Light:
full sun
Minimum Light:
shade
Maximum Moisture:
moist
Minimum Moisture:
average
Pollution Tolerance:
high

Ornamental Features

Japanese Yew is primarily valued in the landscape for its distinctively pyramidal habit of growth. It has dark green evergreen foliage which emerges light green in spring. The ferny sprays of foliage remain dark green throughout the winter. The fruits are showy red drupes displayed from early to late fall. The peeling brown bark adds an interesting dimension to the landscape.

Landscape Attributes

Japanese Yew is a dense evergreen tree with a distinctive and refined pyramidal form. Its relatively fine texture sets it apart from other landscape plants with less refined foliage.

Planting & Growing

Japanese Yew will grow to be about 30 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 20 feet. It has a low canopy with a typical clearance of 1 foot from the ground, and should not be planted underneath power lines. It grows at a slow rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 80 years or more.

This tree performs well in both full sun and full shade. However, you may want to keep it away from hot, dry locations that receive direct afternoon sun or which get reflected sunlight, such as against the south side of a white wall. It does best in average to evenly moist conditions, but will not tolerate standing water. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments, and will benefit from being planted in a relatively sheltered location. Consider applying a thick mulch around the root zone in winter to protect it in exposed locations or colder microclimates. This species is not originally from North America, and parts of it are known to be toxic to humans and animals, so care should be exercised in planting it around children and pets.

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