Japanese Yew
Taxus cuspidata

The evergreen Taxus cuspidata or Japanese yew, is native to Korea, Japan, and some parts of China and Russia. The dark green, lustrous 1 inch needles are densely packed onto the upright stems.

Japanese yew bonsai on display at Heathcote Botanical Gardens in Fort Pierce, Florida.

This is a 40 year old T. cuspidata bonsai in the formal upright style.

It is part of the bonsai collection on display in the Japanese Garden at Heathcote Botanical Gardens in Fort Pierce, Florida.


Bright red berries appear on female plants in the fall. The cultivar 'Aurescens' has gold new growth.

Left to grow as nature dictates, the plant will form a vase-shaped shrub 6 feet tall and as wide.

It is sometimes called spreading yew for this reason.

It can be--and often is--pruned into hedges, topiaries or bonsai forms. Its slow rate of growth makes it ideal for these uses.

Any pruning should be carried out after growth begins in the spring.

Japanese yews are tolerant of air pollution and dry soil. They are hardy from zone 4 to 9b. Plant them on well-drained, sandy soil and protect them from wind.


Taxus Yew in Landscape Design

Box and yew hedges with a fountain in between.

Box and Taxus yew hedges with a fountain in between.

Like other evergreen shrubs, Taxus lends year-round color and structure to the garden. They mix well with other landscape shrubs and make an effective backdrop for flower borders.

The dark green foliage of the Japanese yew contrasts dramatically with that of plants with gold, silver or blue leaves.


Pruning Taxus cuspidata

The yew's slow growth makes it an ideal topiary subject. It lends itself to all but the most tight-angled and intricate shapes. For highly defined shapes, Buxus is the superior plant.

Topiaried yew will need to be trimmed once each spring and again in the fall to keep it shapely.

The next image shows just how modern and artistic this old garden staple can be:

Japanese Yew sheared in the QR Code Garden at Chelsea 2012

Sheared yew in the 2012 Chelsea Flower Show Winning QR Code Garden.

Japanese Yew Pests

Adult black vine weevil, Otiorhynchus sulcatus.

Photo credit: David Gent, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

Yews can be bothered by black vine weevils. The adult weevil is black with gold flecked wings. Its larvae feed on the yew's roots and can cause severe dieback to occur. The adults eat notches into the leaf edges. They feed at night so insecticides applied just before dusk will pack the biggest punch.

It is important to note that black vine weevils have fused wings and do not fly. They are often carried from place to place on infested plant material or soil.

*The foliage and seeds of Taxus cuspidata are deadly poisonous to dogs and a danger to small children as well. Keep them well away from it especially when the berries, which can be particularly attractive to children, appear.


Buy Taxus Yew Plants Here


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Click on the Photos to Read About Other Evergreen Shrubs:

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Japanese privet shrubs.

Japanese Privet

Podocarpus privacy hedge.

Podocarpus macrophllus

Lady palms used as a hedge.

Lady Palm Makes a Dense Hedge

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