Western Yew


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British Columbia Outdoor Wilderness Guide


WESTERN YEW
taxus brevifolia

  • The Western Yew is also known as Pacific Yew
  • Some historians believe that the bow Robin Hood used was made from English yew; hence 'taxus', the Latin word for "bow"

UNIQUE FEATURES:

  • T axol, which is used in some cancer treatment, is derived from the bark of the western yew
  • The Western Yew provides food for elk, deer, moose, caribou
  • Square shape in young trees becoming more coneshaped with age
  • The Western Yew branches spread horizontally, or sweeping downwards, trunk is twisted

LOCATION:

  • The Western Yew is found in wetter forests in the coast and interior of BC
  • The Western Yew grows at low to mid elevations
  • The Western Yew prefers areas of abundant soil nutrients

SIZE:

  • Western Yew grows 5 to 15 metres in height
  • appears like a low spreading shrub or small tree

CONES/FRUIT:

  • pollen cones are produced on the male trees
  • seed cones, produced on the female tree, appear as a coral-red/salmon coloured, fleshy "berry" which contains a single seed

Westyew.Gif

NEEDLES:

  • shiny, flat, sharp, pointed tip
  • the top side is a darker green than any other conifer, the underside is a pale yellowish-green
  • ridge down the centre
  • arranged spirally on twigs

BARK:

  • thin, scaly
  • dark reddish or purplish
  • rose coloured underbark is exposed when scales peel off

WOOD CHARACTERISTICS:

  • dense, strong, resilient

USES:

  • modern - taxol
  • traditional - bows, tools, paddles, snowshoe frames; the fruit, although considered toxic, was sometimes eaten in small amounts; inner bark: braiding, weaving

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Western Yew