Cephalotaxus fortunei
Common Name: Chinese plum yew 
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Taxaceae
Native Range: Eastern and central China, Myanmar
Zone: 7 to 9
Height: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Heavy Shade


Best grown in moist, sandy, well-drained soils in shady areas of the landscape. Tolerates shady conditions better than most needled evergreens. Tolerates full sun in cool summers, but prefers part shade conditions in areas with hot summers. Plants have good heat tolerance. Established plants tolerate some drought. Plants are not reliably winter hardy throughout USDA Zone 6 where they should be planted in protected locations. Like all members of the genus, plants in the within species are dioecious. If fruits are desired, female plants with at least one male pollinator are required for fruit production to occur. Excellent tolerance for both shade and hot weather make this species an interesting substitute in the southeastern U.S. for yews that usually struggle south of USDA Zone 7.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cephalotaxus fotunei, commonly called Chinese plum yew, is native to Burma and China. It is a coniferous evergreen that typically grows as a small tree or large shrub to 10' (less frequently to 15') tall. It is most often seen in open-rounded shrub form with spreading and slightly drooping branches. Linear, pointed, yew-like, dark green needles (to 3 1/2" long) extend horizontally from the branchlets. Each needle has two silver-white bands beneath. Reddish brown bark on mature branches exfoliates with age. Olive brown seed-bearing cones (to 1 1/4" long) appear on female plants.

The genus name Cephalotaxus comes from the Greek words kephale meaning "head" and Taxus meaning "yew" for its resemblance to yews (Genus Taxus).

The specific epithet fortunei honors Robert Fortune (1812-1880), Scottish botanist and plant collector, who introduced this plant to Britain in 1848.

Plants in the genus Cephalotaxus are commonly called plum yews because the foliage resembles that of yews (Taxus) and the fruits (fleshy seeds) on female plants resemble tiny plums.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Woodland gardens. Hedge. Accent, group or mass. Excellent evergreen conifer for shady locations in the landscape.