American Yew
Taxus canadensis
Family Taxaceae

* Needles green on both sides, attached to twig by stalks, 3/8-1".
* Twigs smooth, lined by stalks.
* Both male and female plants exist, and the female bears very distinctive fruits. These are berrylike, juicy and red, with a hard seed in an indentation on the underside of the fruit.
* Height: 3-15'.

Natural History:
* Habitat: Moist woods, often planted as a hedge.
* Range: Southern Canada to New England, south to Kentucky.
* Native.

* Archery masters like William Tell and Robin Hood may have used bows made of the yew's extremely hard wood. In fact, the genus name "Taxus" comes from the ancient Greek word for "bow."

* "What of the bow?
The bow was made in England:
Of true wood, of yew wood,
The wood of English bows."
-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1859-1930, from Song of the Bow

* "What gentle ghost, besprent with April dew,
Hails me so solemnly to yonder yew?"
-Ben Jonson, ~1573-1637

* One species of yew yields a substance called taxol, which has been very effective in treating ovarian cancer.


Created by: Allaire Diamond and Jiasuey Hsu
Maintained by: Nick Rodenhouse
Created: July 31, 1998
Last Modified: November 21, 2008