Taxus cuspidata var. nana

Common Name: Japanese yew 
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Taxaceae
Native Range: Japan, Russian Far East
Zone: 4 to 7
Height: 10.00 to 20.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 35.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Rabbit, Drought, Heavy Shade


Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, sandy loams. Good soil drainage is essential. Tolerates urban conditions. Accepts pruning and shearing well. Best sited in locations protected from cold winter winds.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Taxus cuspidata, commonly known as Japanese yew, is a broad-columnar needled evergreen tree or multistemmed shrub that is native to Korea, China, Russia and Japan. In its native habitat, it will grow to as much as 30-50’ tall. In cultivation it will grow much smaller, particularly if regularly pruned. It features linear, spiny-tipped, dark green needles (to 1” long). Leaves are often tinged yellow beneath. Foliage may turn reddish-brown or yellow in winter. Scaly, reddish brown bark. Plants are dioecious (separate male and female plants). Female plants produce berry-like cones made up of a single seed surrounded by a red, fleshy structure called an aril. The aril is formed by two fused, modified scale leaves.

Var. nana is a compact, wide-spreading Japanese yew which typically grows very slowly to 3-4' tall by 6' wide over the first 10 years. May eventually mature to 15-20' tall over 40 years.

Genus name is an old Latin name for yews.

Specific epithet is in reference to the cuspidate (having a sharp pointed tip) foliage. The infraspecific epithet nana means "small", in reference to the mature height of this variety compared to the species.


Susceptible to winter burn, particularly in exposed sites. Twig blight and needle blight are occasional problems. Root rot may occur in poorly-drained soils.


Group or mass. Foundations, hedges.