Plant Data Sheet

Pacific Yew / Taxus brevifolia




Southern tip of southeast Alaska south through the Pacific Coast region of British Columbia and the Olympic Peninsula of Washington, as far south in the coastal range as northern California, scattered in the Cascade range, inland the Yew grows on the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia south to western Montana. (1)



Cool temperate and cool mesothermal climates (2)



Low to middle elevations in the PNW (3)


Local occurrence

Moist, mature forest, (3) its occurrence increases with increasing precipitation and decreases with increasing latitude and elevation (2)


Habitat preferences

Shade tolerant, submontane to subalpine, (2)


Plant strategy type/successional stage

In productive old growth forests as an understorey tree, at low, open elevations, as a mid-canopy or understorey tree (3) tolerant of shade (1)


Associated species

Doug fir and western hemlock in old growth forests, red cedar and western hemlock (3), Berberis nervosa, Polystichum munitum, Acer circinatum, Tsuga heterophylla, Gaultheria shallon (1)


Collection restrictions or guidelines

Fruit ripens in late summer (August) to autumn (October), fruits should be picked from the branches by hand as they ripen to avoid loss to birds (4)


Seed germination

Natural germination does not take place until the second year, strong but variable dormancy, broken by warm plus cold stratification, recommended 90-210 days at 60 F and then 60-120 days at 36-41 F (4)



Vegetative regeneration

Layering and often sprouts from stumps or rootstocks (1)


Seed life

Fruits are frequently eaten by birds and rodents which void the seeds in viable condition (1) no information on life of seeds


Recommended seed storage conditions



Propagation recommendations

Yew seeds sown in nursery beds in late spring require mulching, shade during the summer and in December (1),


Soil or medium requirements

Fresh to moist, nitrogen rich soils, frequent on water receiving sites (2) heavy in organic matter (1)


Installation form

Young plants from seeds


Recommended planting density



Care requirements after installed (water weekly, water once etc.)



Normal rate of growth or spread; lifespan

Grows slowly, taking the same amount of time to grow 30 cm d.b.h. as other conifers, height growth is also slow, annual growth in diameter at 15 cm above ground to range from 0.05cm to 0.25 cm (1)


Sources cited

(1) Burns, R.M. and B.H. Honkala. 1990. Silvics of North America. Volume 1, Conifers. Agriculture Handbook 654, Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC.

(2) Klinka, K, Krajina, V.J., Ceska, A. and A.M. Scagel. 1989. Indicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia. University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver.

(3) Pojar, J. and MacKinnon, A. 1994. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Lone Pine Publishing, Redmond, WA, USA.

(4) Toogood, A. 1999. Plant Propagation. American Horticultural Society. D.K. Pulblishing Inc., New York, NY.



Data compiled by: Lizbeth Seebacher May 6, 2003