Taxus baccata
Common Name: English yew 
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Taxaceae
Native Range: Europe, Atlas Mountains, Asia Minor, Caucauses
Zone: 6 to 7
Height: 30.00 to 60.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 25.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Leaf: Colorful
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Heavy Shade


Best grown in evenly moist, fertile, sandy loams with excellent drainage in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of full shade, a wide variety of soils (except poorly-drained ones) and considerable pruning. Plants are easy to prune and respond well to pruning. Intolerant of temperature extremes (e.g., prolonged hot summer temperatures or cold winter winds). Not reliably winter hardy throughout the St. Louis area where plants should be located in sheltered locations with protection from winter winds.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Taxus baccata, commonly called English yew or common yew, is a long-lived, evergreen, conical tree that is native to Europe, southwestern Asia and northern Africa. It typically grows to 30-60' tall. Old trees usually develop thick trunks with scaly reddish-brown bark. Lustrous, flat-needled, two-ranked, dark green foliage (needles to 1 1/2" long) is attractive year round. Young shoots emerge light green. 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.

Genus name is an old Latin name for yews.

Specific epithet means fruit-bearing in reference to the showy red arils.


Susceptible to winter burn from exposure to extreme cold and/or dry winter winds, particularly in exposed sites. Twig blights and needle blights are occasional problems. Root rot may occur in poorly-drained soils. Insect pests include mealybugs, scale and vine weevils.


One of the best evergreen conifers for shady areas. Specimen/accent. Hedge. Screen. Foundation. Topiary. Background.

Species plants are rarely sold in commerce. Cultivars of T. baccata and of T. x media (T. baccata x T. cuspidata) are commonly sold.