Yew at Tualatin Hills Nature Park
flattened on twig, light green underneath
Red berry-like aril
Thin gray scales over smooth red-brown bark
Wet shady areas below 5000 ft.
has short, flat, needles that spread out on
opposite sides of the twig in flattened rows. They are dark
green on top and lighter green below. The white lines on the lower
surface are often indistinct or not visible. The needles are about 1
inch long, shorter than Grand
Fir needles, but generally
longer than those of Western
The seeds are
partly enclosed in a modified cone scale that develops into a small,
berry-like fruit, called an "aril." Birds eat the arils and disperse
the seeds, but these
arils, or at least the seeds, are quite poisonous to
are either male or female. Pollen
cones and arils do not usually grow on the same tree. Only the female
When not completely covered in moss, Pacific Yew bark
is a distinctive patchwork
of peeling papery brown or gray scales over a smooth inner layer that
Where it grows: Pacific
Yew grows in moist, shady
areas throughout the Northwest at elevations up to 5000 feet. It
not common, and when you find one, there may be no others growing
nearby. It is usually under 25 feet high, growing in the shade of
Pacific Yew has not had great commercial use, it
important when scientists found that taxol rendered from the bark can
to treat cancer.
Fortunately for the Pacific yew, scientists soon discovered a way to
from needles and twigs of other cultivated yews.
The wood of Pacific Yew is exceptionally hard and strong, and Indians
used it for tools, canoe paddles and weapons, especially bows. The
needles and bark of the yew also had various medicinal uses.
is Latin for "short
leaved." Indians called it "haida," meaning bow-plant. Other common
names: Western Yew, California Yew, and Mountain Mahogany.
bark often becomes fluted on larger
Needles and bark
Aril with seed inside
shoots often grow from the trunk.