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Native Shrubs in Wildlife Landscaping

American Yew

Fair Food and Good Cover

American (Canada) Yew Taxus canadensis

Form: Low straggling shrub often having widespread horizontal limbs, to 5 feet tall.

Leaves: Evergreen, needles are green above and below, about 1 inch long, sharp pointed and stalked with a base that continues down the side of the smooth twig.

Fruit: The berrylike fruit is an aril which is a juicy, scarlet red fleshy cuplike dish surrounding a single seed which poisonous.

WV Range:
Scattered in northern and high mountain counties of Fayette, Greenbrier, Hancock, Marion , Mercer, Mineral, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Preston , Randolph , Summers, Taylor , Tucker and Wetzel.

Natural Habitat:
Cold, shady woods at high elevations or low elevations in deep cold ravines.

Wildlife Uses:
Deer will browse yew to the point of destroying the shrubs. Rabbits also browse yew. The fruits are eaten by grouse, cedar waxwings, robins, bluejays and squirrels. The dense evergreen foliage provides excellent shelter and nest sites for rodents, chipmunks, and ground dwelling songbirds.

Horticulture:
Uses: Foundation plantings or ground cover for northern exposures, shady moist ravines or wet areas.
Light: Heavy to partial shade. Soil Moisture: Wet to moist loamy soils. Soil pH: Slightly acid to slightly alkaline. Problems: Seeds and wilted foliage poisonous to livestock. Red fruits contain poisonous seeds and are attractive to children.

Compiled by: William N. Grafton, naturalist, botanist and wildlife specialist. West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia .

Written by West Virginia Native Plant Society members and jointly published with the WV Wildlife Diversity Program.

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