Taxus floridana
Common Name: Florida yew
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Taxaceae
Native Range: Southeastern United States
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 12.00 to 18.00 feet
Spread: 12.00 to 18.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Leaf: Fragrant

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-10 where it is best grown in fertile, slightly acidic, medium moisture, well-drained soils in part shade. Tolerates both full sun and close to full shade. Appreciates consistent and even moisture, but is intolerant of wet soil conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Taxus floridana, commonly called Florida yew, is a coniferous, evergreen shrub or small tree in the yew family. It typically matures to 12-18’ (infrequently to 25’) tall. It is currently listed as an endangered species by both the U. S. and the State of Florida. Native range is limited to forested bluffs, slopes and ravines along a fifteen mile stretch on the east side of the Apalachicola River on the Florida panhandle from Chattahoochee (Gadsden County) to Bristol (Liberty County). Some plant populations are protected at Torreya State Park and the Nature Conservancy’s Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve. Notwithstanding its endangered status, plants growing on private property are not protected by state or federal law.

Florida yew features flat, linear, flexible, fine-textured, needle-like, sharply-pointed, dark green, evergreen leaves (to 1” long) in two horizontal comb-like ranks. Leaves are mildly aromatic when crushed. Florida yews are dioecious (separate male and female plants). Inconspicuous axillary flower buds appear in early spring. Berry-like fruits on female plants ripen by October. Each fruit (to 1/2” across) has a single seed almost completely surrounded by a pulpy light red aril. Bark is scaly brown.

Genus name is an old Latin name for yews.

Specific epithet is in obvious reference to the native range in Florida.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to winter burn, particularly in exposed sites. Potential disease problems include twig blight and needle blight. Root rot may occur in poorly-drained soils. Potential insect problems include weevils, mealybugs and scale. Seeds and foliage of this tree are poisonous to humans.

Garden Uses

Best grown as a specimen in a prominent location where it can be treasured as being one of the most endangered trees in the world today.