To the UNC Home Page

TAXACEAE (Yew Family)

References: Hils in FNA (1993), Price (1990).

1. Leaves flexible, the tips pointed but not piercing to the touch; fruit ca. 5 mm long, ca. 5 mm in diameter, red when ripe, the seed exposed at the top of the fruit Taxus

1. Leaves stiff, the tips piercing to the touch; fruit 2.5-3 cm long, ca. 2 cm in diameter, dark green to purple when ripe, seed entirely surrounded by fleshy tissue Torreya

Taxus Linnaeus (Yew)

Taxus canadensis Marshall, Canada Yew, American Yew. Mt (NC, VA), Pd (VA): red spruce and hemlock swamps and bogs, also on cliffs, bluffs, and rocky slopes over calcareous or mafic rocks; uncommon in VA, rare in NC (NC Significantly Rare). April-May. The species ranges from Newfoundland, Labrador, MN, and s. Manitoba south to nw. NC, ne. TN, KY, and IA. Taxus was first found in NC in 1968 (McDowell 1969). In our area and ne. TN, Taxus occurs primarily on limestone and mafic bluffs, but at its southernmost site in the hanging valley of Long Hope Creek (Ashe and Watauga counties, NC), Taxus is found in red spruce swamps and bog edges, where it is locally rather common. Deer have a devastating effect on populations of this species in our area. [= C, F, FNA, G, K, W]

Various other species of Taxus, including T. baccata Linnaeus, English Yew, and T. cuspidata Siebold & Zuccarini, Japanese Yew, are planted as hedges or ornamental hedges. The genus consists of about 8 very closely related species, termed "discouragingly similar" by Hils in FNA (1993). In e. North America, T. canadensis occurs in ne. North America, and T. floridana Chapman is endemic to panhandle FL. T. brevifolia Nuttall, Pacific Yew, of British Columbia and Alberta south to MT, ID, OR, and CA, has recently been widely publicized as the source of an anti-cancer drug, present in all species of the genus. T. baccata Linnaeus is native to Europe, and 3-4 additional species occur in Japan and e. mainland Asia (Price 1990).

Torreya Arnott (Torreya, Stinking Cedar)

* Torreya taxifolia Arnott, Florida Torreya. Mt (NC): established near plantings; rare, introduced from the FL and GA. Torreya taxifolia is and endangered endemic of ravines along the Apalachicola River in panhandle FL and sw. GA. Pittillo and Brown (1988) report that "young saplings [are] established downslope and beneath transplanted trees south of Highlands [Macon County, NC]." Godfrey (1988) reports that the national champion Florida Torreya is in Warren County, NC, with "a near-basal circumference of 9 feet, a spread of 52 feet, and a height of 60 feet. It is estimated that it may have been planted there about 1830." [= FNA, K; Tumion taxifolium (Arnott) Greene -- S]

The genus consists of 7 species -- 1 in FL and adjacent GA, 1 in CA, 1 in Japan, and 4 in c. and s. China and adjacent Burma (Price 1990).

Back to Herbarium Homepage.

Flora of the Carolinas and Virginia, Working Draft of 1 January 1997 -- Gymnosperm Key. Alan S. Weakley. The Nature Conservancy, Southeast Regional Office, Southern Conservation Science Department.