2-3 Taxaceae, yew family
A single genus of 10 species, only one species reaches NS. Ours is a dioecious shrub. Needles are yellowish green beneath, acute and evergreen, arranged in two rows along the twigs. Staminate flowers are globose, consisting of a few stamens, producing copious amounts of pollen. Mature seeds are green and are surrounded by a red fleshy outgrowth of the lower axis (aril). All parts of this plant should be considered dangerously toxic, although some animals graze it without ill effects.
Yews are commonly planted as ornamentals. If poisoning is a concern, staminate shrubs should be used. Effective anti-ovarian cancer alkaloids (taxol) were discovered in the Pacific yew. The Canada yew does not have the same efficacy. Image use provided by Ross Hall and Gerry Lund.
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