An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions/Taxaceae

Family 2.   TaxàceaeLindl.   Nat. Syst. Ed. 2, 316.   1836.
Yew Family..

Trees or shrubs, resin-bearing except Taxus. Leaves evergreen or deciduous, linear, or in several exotic genera broad or sometimes fan-shaped, the pollen-sacs and ovules borne in separate clusters or solitary. Perianth wanting. Stamens much as in the Pinaceae. Ovules with either one or two integuments; when two, the outer one fleshy, when only one, its outer part fleshy. Fruit drupe-like or rarely a cone.

About 10 genera and 75 species, of wide geographic distribution, most numerous in the southern hemisphere. The Maiden-hair Tree, Ginkgo biloba, of China and Japan, with fan-shaped leaves, is an interesting relative of the group, now much planted for ornament.


1.   Táxus   [Tourn.] L.   Sp. Pl. 1040.   1753.

Evergreen trees or shrubs, with spirally arranged short-petioled linear flat mucronate leaves, spreading so as to appear 2-ranked, and axillary and solitary, sessile or subsessile very small aments; staminate aments consisting of a few scaly bracts and 5-8 stamens, their filaments united to the middle; anthers 4-6-celled. Ovules solitary, axillary, erect, subtended by a fleshy, annular disk, which is bracted at the base. Fruit consisting of the fleshy disk which becomes cup-shaped, red, and nearly encloses the bony seed. [Name ancient.]

About 6 species, natives of the north temperate zone. Besides the following, another occurs in Florida, one in Mexico and one on the Pacific Coast. Type species: Taxus baccata L.


  1.  Taxus canadènsisMarsh.
American Yew.   Ground-hemlock.   Fig. 158.

Taxus baccata var. minor Michx. Fl. Bor. Am. 2: 245.  1803.

Taxus canadensis Marsh. Arb. Am. 151.  1785.

Taxus minor Britton, Mem. Torr. Club, 5: 19.  1893.

A low straggling shrub, seldom over 5° high. Leaves dark green on both sides, narrowly linear, mucronate at the apex, narrowed at the base, 6–10 long, nearly 1 wide, persistent on the twigs in drying; the staminate aments globose, 1 long, usually numerous; ovules usually few; fruit red and pulpy, resinous, oblong, nearly 3 high, the top of the seed not covered by the fleshy integument.

In woods, Newfoundland to Manitoba, south to New Jersey, in the Alleghenies to Virginia, and to Minnesota and Iowa. Ascends to 2500 ft. in the Adirondacks. April-May. Called also Dwarf Yew, Shin-wood, Creeping Hemlock. Very different from the European Yew, T. baccata, in habit, the latter becoming a large forest tree, as does the Oregon Yew, T. brevifolia.