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Anglo-Japanese yew is a very popular hybrid between English and Japanese yew species. They are often used as specimens, foundation plants, in groups, or sheared as a hedge. Yews tend to be fairly narrow when young, becoming wider with age. They are hardy and resilient, tolerant of urban conditions, and are one of the few evergreens that can tolerate heavy shade. They can also stand severe pruning and shearing. Be aware that the leaves, seeds, and bark of all yews are poisonous.

  • Family (English) Yew
  • Family (botanic) Taxaceae
  • Tree or plant type Tree, Shrub
  • Foliage Evergreen (foliage year-round)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large shrub (more than 8 feet), Small tree (15-25 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily), Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Dry soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances clay soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, early spring, mid spring, late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Mounded, Upright
  • Growth rate Slow

Size and form: 

There are many yew cultivars that vary considerably in size and habit. If left unpruned, many yews can grow into substantial trees, reaching up to 40 feet high. Some cultivars have been bred to stay compact.


Evergreen (foliage year-round)

Native geographic location and habitat: 

Anglo-Japanese yews are crosses between species native to Europe and Eastern Asia.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture: 

The glossy needles are arranged flat on either side of the branch. They are dark green on top and lime green on the underside. The needles are on short stalks and are 1/2 to 1 inch long.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

The fleshy red berries (aril) surround a hard brown seed. These are actually modified cones, borne in fall on female plants. Most nurseries do not sell yews with the sex known. The fruits are poisonous.

Plant care: 

Yews can tolerate full shade, but its growth will be less dense. It does best in a sheltered location, as winter winds can dry plant tissue causing dieback. It prefers a well-drained soil. It has a  shallow root system that will benefit from a layer of mulch. Keep it pruned to control the size of plants, especially near buildings. It will not tolerate wet conditions.

List of pests and diseases

Root rot, black vine weevil, and scale are possible issues.

Brownii yew (Taxus x media ‘Brownii’): 

This cultivar grows 6 to 8 feet high and 6 to 9 feet wide. It has dark green, dense foliage. It is a male clone that does not yield fruit.

Chadwickii yew (Taxus x media ‘Chadwickii’ ): 

This cultivar grows 2 to 3 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide, with a low, spreading habit. 

Densi yew (Taxus x media ‘Densiformis’):

This plant grows 3 to 4 feet high and 4 to 6 feet wide. It is a dense, wide, spreading shrub.  It is a female clone, so fruit will be produced.

Everlow yew (Taxus x media ‘Everlow’):

This shrub grows 1 1/2 to 2 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide with a low, spreading habit.

Hicksii yew (Taxus x media ‘Hicksii’):

This cultivar grows 6 to 8 feet high and 3 to 5 feet wide. It is a large shrub with a tall, narrow, columnar habit. It may be male or female.

Tauntonii yew (Taxus x media ‘Tauntonii’):

This shrub grows 3 to 4 feet high and 4 to 6 feet wide, with a spreading habit. It is especially resistant to desiccation and dieback from winter sun and winds. It is relatively salt-tolerant. It has glossy, flattened, slightly leathery, dark-green needles.

Viridis yew (Taxus x media ‘Viridis’): 

This cultivar grows 10 to 12 feet high and 1 to 2 feet wide. It has a very narrow, columnar form. Its new needles are yellow-green and twisted, maturing to a medium green.

Wardii yew (Taxus x media ‘Wardii’): 

This plant grows 6 to 8 feet high and 15 to 20 feet wide. It is a very large shrub with a wide, spreading habit that becomes flat-topped with age.


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