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Podocarpus macrophyllus: Podocarpus1

Edward F. Gilman, Dennis G. Watson, Ryan W. Klein, Andrew K. Koeser, Deborah R. Hilbert, and Drew C. McLean 2


With densely foliated lower limbs which reach the ground and neat, dark green, evergreen leaves, yew podocarpus is very popular as a dense screen or hedge. However, yew podocarpus can reach 30 to 40 feet in height when not sheared and is quite attractive as a tree with the lower branches removed, revealing the light brown, peeling bark. If space permits, leave the lower limbs on the tree for an almost spruce-like appearance. The tree grows in an open manner with large spaces between the branches creating a pleasing, irregular oval silhouette in middle and old age. The inconspicuous flowers are followed by fleshy, purple, small, edible fruits (though the similarly looking seeds are toxic, therefore it is best to avoid ingesting any part of this tree that resembles fruit) on female trees which are quite attractive to birds but not really messy on sidewalks or pavement.

Figure 1. Full Form - Podocarpus macrophyllus: Yew podocarpus
Figure 1.  Full Form - Podocarpus macrophyllus: Yew podocarpus
Credit: UF/IFAS

Figure 2. Hedge Form - Podocarpus macrophyllus: Yew podocarpus
Figure 2.  Hedge Form - Podocarpus macrophyllus: Yew podocarpus
Credit: UF/IFAS

General Information

Scientific name: Podocarpus macrophyllus

Pronunciation: poe-doe-KAR-pus mack-roe-FILL-us

Common name(s): Yew podocarpus, yew-pine, Japanese yew

Family: Podocarpaceae

USDA hardiness zones: 8B through 11 (Figure 3)

Origin: native to southern China and Japan

UF/IFAS Invasive Assessment Status: not considered a problem species at this time, may be recommended (North, Central, South)

Uses: highway median; screen; street without sidewalk; specimen; shade; hedge; reclamation; espalier; deck or patio; parking lot island < 100 sq ft; parking lot island 100-200 sq ft; parking lot island > 200 sq ft; sidewalk cutout (tree pit); tree lawn 3-4 feet wide; tree lawn 4-6 feet wide; tree lawn > 6 ft wide; urban tolerant; trained as a standard; indoors

Figure 3. Range
Figure 3.  Range


Height: 30 to 40 feet

Spread: 20 to 25 feet

Crown uniformity: irregular

Crown shape: round

Crown density: moderate

Growth rate: slow

Texture: fine


Leaf arrangement: whorled

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: entire

Leaf shape: linear

Leaf venation: parallel

Leaf type and persistence: evergreen

Leaf blade length: 1 to 5 inches

Leaf color: dark green on top, grayish underneath

Fall color: no color change

Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 4. Leaf - Podocarpus macrophyllus: Yew podocarpus
Figure 4.  Leaf - Podocarpus macrophyllus: Yew podocarpus
Credit: UF/IFAS


Flower color: yellow
Flower characteristics: not showy

Figure 5. Flower - Podocarpus macrophyllus: Yew podocarpus
Figure 5.  Flower - Podocarpus macrophyllus: Yew podocarpus
Credit: UF/IFAS


Fruit shape: irregular, round, oval

Fruit length: ½ inch

Fruit covering: fleshy, drupe-like aril

Fruit color: reddish purple or blue

Fruit characteristics: attracts birds; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Figure 6. Fruit - Podocarpus macrophyllus: Yew podocarpus
Figure 6.  Fruit - Podocarpus macrophyllus: Yew podocarpus
Credit: UF/IFAS

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/branches: branches don't droop; not showy; typically one trunk; no thorns

Bark: reddish brown, shredding, and turns gray with age

Pruning requirement: little required

Breakage: resistant

Current year twig color: green

Current year twig thickness: medium, thick

Wood specific gravity: unknown

Figure 7. Bark - Podocarpus macrophyllus: Yew podocarpus
Figure 7.  Bark - Podocarpus macrophyllus: Yew podocarpus
Credit: Gitta Hasing, UF/IFAS


Light requirement: full sun to partial shade

Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; well-drained

Drought tolerance: high

Aerosol salt tolerance: high


Roots: not a problem

Winter interest: no

Outstanding tree: yes

Ozone sensitivity: unknown

Verticillium wilt susceptibility: unknown

Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management

This is one of a few trees which can be pruned into a nice hedge. The dark green foliage and dense growth creates a formal mass. It looks better when pruned with a hand pruner, not sheared with a hedge trimmer.

Showing best growth and form in full sun, yew podocarpus will grow more slowly and have a looser appearance when grown in shade. It will grow on the north side of a tall building with little or no direct sun. It will tolerate a wide variety of well-drained, acidic soils. Don't plant on wet soils. This is a tough tree, adaptable to urban conditions and should be used much more extensively as a street tree. It should be used more in areas of poor soils and restricted rooting space. Unfortunately, most people choose to trim the tree into a column or hedge, so not many have seen the true beauty of the tree. It will make an attractive specimen, street or parking lot tree, even for the smallest soil space in a downtown planting pit. Roots are not a problem in restricted-soil planting areas and usually do not lift sidewalks.

Many varieties are available for selection of habit, leaf form, color, etc. Podocarpus macrophyllus var. angustifolius is a narrow, columnar tree with curved leaves, 2 to 4.5 inches long; Podocarpus macrophyllus var. appressus is a low shrub with short leaves; Podocarpus macrophyllus var. maki has erect branches, columnar form, 1.5 to 3-inch-long leaves.

Propagation is by seeds or cuttings. Hardwood cuttings root easily. Cutting propagation would ensure more uniform trees than seedlings. Nursery operators should be encouraged to grow Yew Podocarpus in the single-trunked tree form for planting in urban landscapes.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases are of major concern. Occasionally bothered by scale, mites, and sooty mold but not seriously. Some magnesium-deficiency on sandy soil, which is easily corrected with magnesium sulfate.

Additional References

Koeser, A. K., Hasing, G., Friedman, M. H., and Irving, R. B. 2015. Trees: North & Central Florida. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Koeser, A.K., Friedman, M.H., Hasing, G., Finley, H., Schelb, J. 2017. Trees: South Florida and the Keys. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.


1. This document is ENH654, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2018. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department; Ryan W. Klein, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department; Andrew K. Koeser, assistant professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center; Deborah R. Hilbert, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; and Drew C. McLean, biological scientist, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #ENH654

Release Date:March 29, 2019

Related Collections

Part of Southern Trees Fact Sheets

    Organism ID


    • Andrew Koeser