fbpx Yew | The Morton Arboretum


The dark green needles of the Japanese yew form branches that create a spreading habit

Yews (Taxus) are the dominant genus in the yew family (Taxaceae) section. Taxus species are small coniferous trees or shrubs, that have flat or lance-shaped needles, and highly modified seed cones called arils. The seed cones are red, look like berries, and are open at one end. The fleshy red part of the cone is actually a modified scale. Like juniper seeds, yew cones are also popular with birds, which consume the "berries" and later disperse the seeds via their droppings.

Yew species grow slowly and are long-lived. In the Yew Collection at The Morton Arboretum, look for the many cultivars of Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata). Notable specimens in this collection are several mature, upright forms of Anglo-Japanese yew (Taxus x media). These include Pilaris Anglo-Japanese yew (Taxus x media 'Pilaris'), Sentinel Anglo-Japanese yew (Taxus x media 'Sentinalis'), and Upright Anglo-Japanese yew (Taxus x media 'Stricta'). These specimens are all over 50 years old and have developed into impressive narrow, upright forms. Another exciting feature of this collection is the amazing exfoliating red-green bark of the 80 year old Hunnewell yew (Taxus x hunnewelliana).