Taxus brevifolia Nutt. Western or Pacific Yew.
These are trees ranging in height from 5 to 10 meters tall. The erect trunks can be either straight or contorted. The outer, purplish scaled bark is thin. The inner bark is reddish purple. The flat , yellow-green leaves remain alive up to 6 years. They are about ½ to 3/4 inches long and up to 1/8 inch wide and end in a small projecting point (mucronate). In northern Idaho they grow in moist forests, especially along streams.
Genus & Species Common Name Family Family Common Name
Taxus brevifolia Nutt. Western or Pacific Yew Taxaceae Yew Family
Taxus brevifolia Nutt. Western Yew. A shrub or small tree, sometimes
up to 20 meters tall, mostly found as understory in coniferous stands;
bark scaly; leaves 1-2 cm long, yellowish-green, paler beneath,
slender-petioled, linear, flat, with strong midrib, spinulose-tipped;
see ovoid, 5-6 mm long, 2-4-angled; aril a translucent red cup, 4-5 mm
broad. Mts., Alberta to Alaska, south to Montana., across northern and
western Idaho to California.
Although the dark yellowish green needles are arranged in a spiral on
the twigs, they spread and become two ranked. They vary in length from
1.2 to 2.6 cm long. They are usually straight and flat and have a
The 6-14 staminate cones are clustered into a spherical-shaped
cluster. The seeds are surrounded by
an outgrowth of the seed stalk called an aril. The red aril surrounds
the seed except at the end where the shiny black seed can be seen in the
The dark, hard seed is 6-8 mm long and is single, erect, and broadest
near the base with a pointed tip.
stream margins, moist flats and ravines from 2100 to 8000 feet
elevation as a scattered, understory tree in coniferous forests with
such species as Douglas Fir, Grand Fir and Coastal Redwoods.
Alaska southward to northern California and inland in a separate
population in eastern Washington Oregon and in the panhandle of Idaho
with two separate small populations in northeastern Oregon and south
Western Yews regularly produce large seed crops. Birds readily eat the
bright red aril covered seed, digest off the aril and then defecate the
seeds, thereby scattering them around the forest. Because the leaves
are poisonous to mammals, they avoid eating the twigs and leaves.
The wood is light red or rose-colored, hard, ehavy, stgrong, durable,
fine-grained and resilient. It is used for making canoe paddles,
archery bows, and handles. It also can be turned in lathes and will