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Publication #FPS-573

Taxus floridana Florida Yew1

Edward F. Gilman2

Introduction

This lovely Florida native is an evergreen shrub or small tree. It grows slowly to a height of 20 feet (Fig. 1). The horizontally held, spreading branches are clothed with short, dark green needles that look pointed but are actually very soft to the touch. New growth is bright green, making a nice contrast to the darker, mature foliage. Insignificant flowers are produced in March on female plants and are followed by single-seeded, small, pulpy fruits, ripening to red in the fall. Both leaves and fruit of Florida yew are poisonous.

Figure 1. 

Florida yew


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Taxus floridana
Pronunciation: TACK-suss flor-rid-DAY-nuh
Common name(s): Florida yew
Family: Taxaceae
Plant type: shrub
USDA hardiness zones: 8 through 9A (Fig. 2)
Planting month for zone 8: year round
Planting month for zone 9: year round
Origin: native to Florida
Uses: near a deck or patio; screen; attracts butterflies; superior hedge
Availability: grown in small quantities by a small number of nurseries

Figure 2. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Description

Height: 10 to 25 feet
Spread: 15 to 25 feet
Plant habit: oval; vase shape
Plant density: dense
Growth rate: slow
Texture: fine

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: spiral
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: linear
Leaf venation: parallel
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: less than 2 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Flower

Flower color: no flowers
Flower characteristic: no flowers

Fruit

Fruit shape: irregular
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit cover: fleshy
Fruit color: red
Fruit characteristic: attracts birds

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: showy; typically multi-trunked or clumping stems
Current year stem/twig color: green
Current year stem/twig thickness: medium

Culture

Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: sand; acidic; loam; clay
Drought tolerance: moderate
Soil salt tolerances: poor
Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches

Other

Roots: usually not a problem
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

The dense, compact growth of Florida yew makes it ideal for use as a specimen, hedge, or foundation planting, but Florida yew is seldom seen in nurseries and should be used much more often in home landscapes in order to save it from extinction. In the wild, Florida yew is found only in a small section of north Florida on the eastern shore of the Apalachicola River where it will ultimately be threatened by encroaching developments.

Florida yew should be grown in conditions that can mimic its native habitat as much as possible: broken shade on rich, slightly acid, well-drained soil. Plants should be watered faithfully.

Propagation is by cuttings. Mature wood cuttings taken in winter root well under mist.

Pest and Diseases

Scales.

Mushroom root-rot.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FPS-573, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.