Taxus baccata


English Yew, Common Yew

Slow-growing, long-lived, evergreen and monoecious conifer tree to 15m high. Conical habit when young, spreading with age. Bark is brown, peeling off in scales. Leaves are 3-4cm long dark green needles with pointed tips and pale undersides, arranged spirally. Male trees produce scaley cones. Female trees bear red, cup-like and poisonous berries. Various cultivars feature different habits and foliage colours.


A very popular plant for hedges and topiary, it is also suitable for use as an ornamental tree in gardens and parks. In the past the tree had religious significance for some societies and the wood was also used for making longbows.


Suitable for full sun or shade, cool and temperate climates and most soils, it grows best in full sun in an alkaline soil. It is frost and pollution tolerant, but sensitive to dry summers. Can be pruned for hedges or topiary, preferably a few times a year. An annual pruning should occur in early autumn. Propagate by stratified seed or cuttings.


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Plant Health

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More info

Book: ‘Growing Conifers’ by John Mason is available through Courses on Conifers and Landscape Design are available through Australian Correspondence Schools, see

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