Taxus- Yew

Slow-growing conifers with flattened, usually dark-green needles which are poisonous, as are the berries.

Situation:

Taxus baccata is ideal for hedge making. Such hedges will last for centuries and may grow to several metres in height; they provide nesting places for innumerable birds. The bush forms are used as striking ornamental shrubs in larger than average gardens. All species tolerate a fair amount of shade, but too much of it will lead to thin patches in the hedge.

Soil:

Will grow in practically any soil, provided the water level is below 50 cm. Taxus appreciates feeding.

Propagation:

The common hedge plant is always grown from seed, hence the attractive small colour variations. Cultivars are increased from winter cuttings.

Taxus baccata, English yew: Height to 20 m, but trees of this size are rare. The needles are 1.5-3 cm long, flat, dark-green and glossy. The seed is contained in bright-pink capsules which are not poisonous. Innumerable garden forms have been developed, some in golden-yellow shades. Tastigiata’ and ‘Raket’ are well known columnar forms; in ‘Fastigiata Aureomarginata’ the leaves are edged with golden yellow. An attractive weeping form with drooping branches is called ‘Dovastoniana’, also available in yellow form. There is a dwarf form with creeping habit called ‘Repandens’; another spreading form, though somewhat taller, is ‘Adpressa’; the spreading, densely branched shrub ‘Semperaurea’ has bright-yellow needles. In ‘Washingtonii’ the needles are yellow green, bronze coloured in winter; this is another large, spreading shrub.

Taxus cuspidata: Height to 15 m; closely resembles Taxus baccata except that the bud scales are more sharply pointed and the needles are thicker and end in an abrupt point. ‘Nana’ is a low shrub with spreading branches; the needles are short and are piled up at the tips of the twigs. In ‘Aurescens’ the needles are golden yellow. Taxus X media: The result of crossing the two previous species. ‘Hatfieldii’ is a broad, bushy shrub with dark-green needles and strongly erect branches; ‘Hicksii’, the best known form, has broad needles and a broad columnar habit. Suitable for medium to tall hedges.

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