Taxus baccata is an evergreen, perennial tree or shrub of the Taxaceae family that is indigenous to most countries in Europe, Northern Iran and North Africa. This tree, also known as the English yew, European yew or common yew is one of the oldest, ornamental, coniferous trees in Europe. It makes a good alternative to a standard Buxus for topiary.

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English Yew Topiary Ball – Taxus baccata – Small

It will grow to a height of 50 feet tall, and all parts of the tree are extremely toxic to man and animals. The leaves are narrow, dark green, acicular and are arranged in two rows on a stem. They are arranged spirally on upright stems.

Yew trees are dioecious which means that they have separate male and female trees. The male trees produce small, circular, yellow insignificant flowers on the underpart of the leaves that shed pollen. 

The female trees yield small red fruits with a fleshy outer structure that is termed an aril and is the only part of the tree that is edible, and it contains a single black seed.

Cultivation of Taxus baccata

It is very easy to grow and care for common yew. It is tolerant of many growing conditions including urban pollution and it is excellent in topiary and is also great in gardens and hedges

It doesn’t do well in prolonged periods of extremely cold or hot weather. It is also propagated from seeds, grafting and semi-hardwood cuttings.
Soil for Taxus baccata
Although common yew will prosper in the loamy soil of neutral pH, it will also tolerate most soil types and can be planted in chalk, loam, clay, and sandy soil of any pH as long as the soil drains well.
Taxus baccata Exposure and position
Common yew can be grown in full sun and full or partial shade. It has no position it prefers and can be planted in a North, South, East or West facing position.
Watering common yew Taxus baccata
Your plant will need regular watering in the first year that it is planted when the roots are still spreading in the soil and even though it is drought tolerant it will still need more watering in hot weather.
Pruning Taxus baccata
Common yew can be trimmed and sculptured to your preference and even though regular pruning is not required, it can still be done to promote exuberant growth. Your tree can also be pruned heavily by reducing the size by one half in early spring before new growth emerges.
Taxus baccata Pests and diseases
Scales, mealybugs, and black vine weevils in large numbers can damage the foliage and roots of your plant and they can be controlled with insecticide sprays and soaps.

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