Western Yew

Photo of the Tree

The western yew can grow 66 feet high (20 metres) and live a few hundred years. This native North American tree grows primarily along the Pacific coast.

It grows in the understory of coniferous or broadleaf stands.

Its fruit is special in that it is the only conifer with a fruit consisting of a red aril around a deep blue seed. All other conifers have cones. Birds can eat the aril but not the poisonous seed.

Other parts of the western yew are toxic for animals. The needles, for example, are poisonous for horses and livestock, but not harmful to moose, deer and wapiti.

Western yew wood has been used to produce certain types of objects. In the Middle Ages, for instance, bowmen used it to make their bows, and today it is used to make paddles and tool handles.

The most prized part of this tree is a medicinal substance called "Taxol" that is found in the bark, needles and twigs. This substance is used to treat cancer.


Photo - Leaf

Needles, flat, evergreen, single.