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Growing the Evergreen Yew (Taxus)

Sheared, shaped or enjoyed for its natural beauty, the yew has long been a popular evergreen for home landscapes.

The yew’s winter hardiness, dense growth habit, evergreen needle like leaves and diversity in available shapes has made it a favorite in zones 4 to 7. The rare native Florida yew is hardy in zones 8 and 9.

You’ll find yews grown as hedges, foundation plantings, topiaries and screens.

They perform best when grown in fertile well-drained soil with sufficient moisture. You can grow them in sun or shady locations, but they must be protected from drying winds.

The reddish-brown bark becomes furrowed and more obvious with age. This along with the red fleshy fruit on female plants adds to its ornamental appeal.

The leaves, bark and seeds are all very toxic to people and livestock but apparently not deer who love to dine on these plants.

A bit more information: Yews have long been celebrated as a sign of longevity and regeneration. It was also used to make long bows in England. Legend has it that Robin Hood made his bow from a yew, as well.

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