Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Canada Yew - Taxus canadensis   MarshallOnly member of Taxus in NC.
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Section 3 » Order Taxales » Family Taxaceae
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DistributionStrictly in the northwestern corner of the state, known only from several bogs along the Ashe--Watauga county line.

This is a species of the Far North, ranging from Canada south only to northwestern NC, extreme northern TN, and KY.
AbundanceThough it is locally common at several bog margins, it is extremely rare in NC and not known from any other sites. It is a State Threatened species.
HabitatIn NC, it is restricted to margins of bogs in a hanging valley, with Red Spruce (Picea rubens) being a major component of the forests surrounding these bogs.
PhenologyBlooms and fruits from April to May.
IdentificationThis is an unusual species, being a low evergreen shrub that resembles a seedling hemlock at first glance. The height of the plants is only 1-3 feet tall, but it has a number of rather long and spreading branches, so as to appear wider than high. The leaves (needles) -– it is a conifer -– are narrow and linear, dark green and thick, and reach only to about 3/4-inch long. The leaves are arranged in a flat “spray” (a single plane), as in hemlocks. The plant can be separated from Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) by the leaves being sharply pointed at the tip, as opposed to being rounded in hemlocks. The fruits are distinctive – orange red arils (berry-like fruit) that average 1/2-inch across and are attached to the middle of the branches. Though the fruit are very distinctive, as hemlocks have brown cones and do not fruit as saplings, normally you must get down to examine the leaves to be sure you have a yew growing around the bogs and adjacent wet areas in the spruce stands. Of course, to see it in NC, you will need to make arrangements, if possible, to visit these privately owned bogs.
Taxonomic CommentsNone. Note that this species is not found in RAB (1968), as the species was not discovered in the state (first found in 1968), after the book had gone to press.

Other Common Name(s)American Yew, Canadian Yew
State RankS1
Global RankG5
State StatusT
US Status
USACE-agcpFAC link
USACE-empFAC link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
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B.A. SorriePhoto taken August 2014 in central New Hampshire in northern hardwoods-white pine. AshePhoto_natural
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