Yew characteristics

What is a yew?

Characteristics of yew (Taxus baccata)

Photo of yew leaves and fruit (Taxus baccata)

Scientific noun: Taxus baccata L.

Common noun: Yew, English yew, European yew

Family: Taxaceae

Habitat: In humid forests of the European mountains, North of Africa and Western Asia. It is cultivated in gardening. (See cultivation details)

Description of Taxus baccata

Yew is a perennial tree of the Yew family – taxaceae – up to 20 m.

Erect stems, reddish.

Leaves dark green above, light green below, alternate, flat.

Not very conspicuous flowers; male and female ones on separate trees. The first ones yellowish: greenish the female.

Yew fruit is an aril, containing inside the seed.

Components of Taxus baccata

The main active components of yew are the following:

  • Alkaloids: Taxine (leaves)
  • Glycosides: taxicantin (leaves) and taxiphyllin. (plant)
  • Taxol (mainly in the leaves)
  • Baccatin (wood)
  • Ephedrine (Leaves)
  • Acids: formic, tannic and gallic (leaves)
  • Vitamins: Vitamin A (fruit)

Active parts: Leaves, branches and seeds.

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This article was endorsed by Julián Masats - Technical agricultural engineer specialized in horticulture and gardening.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

4 April, 2022

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