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Useful Temperate Plants

Cephalotaxus harringtonia

(Knight ex J.Forbes) K.Koch

Taxaceae


The genus Cephalotaxus is a very difficult one taxonomically since most species are very similar and the key differences that distinguish them generally intergrade morphologically. Over 70 names have been published, though modern treatments usually restrict the genus to between 6 - 8 species. It can be difficult to know how to identify individual plants, with differences of opinion coming from decisions of taxonomists in different countries. We are following the treatment in Lang, X.D., Su, J.R., Lu, S.G. & Zhang, Z.J. (2013). A taxonomic revision of the genus Cephalotaxus (Taxaceae). Phytotaxa 84: 1-24.[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

+ Synonyms

Cephalotaxus buergeri Miq.

Cephalotaxus drupacea Siebold & Zucc.

Cephalotaxus drupacea fastigiata (Carrière) Pilg.

Cephalotaxus drupacea harringtonia (Knight ex J.Forbes) Pilg.

Cephalotaxus drupacea pedunculata (Siebold & Zucc.) Miq.

Cephalotaxus drupacea sinensis Rehder & E.H.Wilson

Cephalotaxus drupacea sphaeralis (Mast.) Pilg.

Cephalotaxus fortunei foemina Carrière

Cephalotaxus mannii Hook.f.

Cephalotaxus pedunculata Siebold & Zucc.

Cephalotaxus sinensis (Rehder & E.H.Wilson) H.L.Li

Cephalotaxus wilsoniana Hayata

Nageia koraiana (Siebold ex Endl.) Kuntze

Podocarpus koraianus Siebold ex Endl.

Taxus baccata Thunb.

Taxus coriacea Knight

Taxus drupacea (Siebold & Zucc.) C.Lawson

Taxus harringtonia Knight ex J.Forbes

Taxus inukaja Knight

Taxus japonica Lodd. ex Gordon

Taxus pedunculata (Siebold & Zucc.) C.Lawson

Common Name: Japanese Plum Yew

No Image.

General Information

Cephalotaxus harringtonia is an evergreen tree forming, with maturity, a broad, rounded crown of spreading branches; it usually grows up to 10 metres tall, occasionally reaching 16 metres. The bole can be 30 - 60cm in diameter[
1193
Title
A taxonomic revision of the genus Cephalotaxus (Taxaceae)
Publication
Phytotaxa 84 (1); 1-24
Author
Xue-Dong Lang; Jian-Rong Su; Shu-Gang Lu & Zhi-Jun Zhang
Website
http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/phytotaxa.84.1.1
Publisher
Magnolia Press
Year
2013
ISBN
1179-3163
Description
A review of the genus Cephalotaxus. It can be downloaded from the Internet
].
The plant is often harvested from the wild for local use as a food and source of materials. The plant has also been harvested on a commercial basis for its leaves and bark, which contain compounds that can be used in treating cancer. The plant has excellent potential as a fruit and nut crop and is often grown as an ornamental, with several described cultivars that vary in growth habit, shade tolerance, and cold tolerance[
329
Title
The Gymnosperm Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.conifers.org/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A vast amount of information on conifers and families of gymnosperms.
,
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].
The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
1193
Title
A taxonomic revision of the genus Cephalotaxus (Taxaceae)
Publication
Phytotaxa 84 (1); 1-24
Author
Xue-Dong Lang; Jian-Rong Su; Shu-Gang Lu & Zhi-Jun Zhang
Website
http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/phytotaxa.84.1.1
Publisher
Magnolia Press
Year
2013
ISBN
1179-3163
Description
A review of the genus Cephalotaxus. It can be downloaded from the Internet

Range

E. Asia - China, Japan, Korea, northeastern India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos

Habitat

An understorey shrub in woodlands[
109
Title
Plantae Wilsonae. Vol 1 - 3
Publication
 
Author
Wilson. E. H.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
University Press; Cambridge.
Year
1911 - 1917
ISBN
 
Description
Details of the palnts collected by the plant collector E. H. Wilson on his travels in China. Gives some habitats. Not for the casual reader. It can be downloaded from the internet.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Montane coniferous or mixed forests, thickets, stream valleys, valley bottoms, open situations, on granite, sandstone, and limestone substrates; at elevations from 600 - 3,000 metres[
1193
Title
A taxonomic revision of the genus Cephalotaxus (Taxaceae)
Publication
Phytotaxa 84 (1); 1-24
Author
Xue-Dong Lang; Jian-Rong Su; Shu-Gang Lu & Zhi-Jun Zhang
Website
http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/phytotaxa.84.1.1
Publisher
Magnolia Press
Year
2013
ISBN
1179-3163
Description
A review of the genus Cephalotaxus. It can be downloaded from the Internet
].

Properties

Conservation StatusLeast Concern
Edibility Rating *  *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Shrub
Height6.00 m
PollinatorsWind
Self-fertileNo
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

Cephalotaxus harringtonia has a wide native range, from the temperate zone to moderate elevations in the tropics. Some provenances, at least, are fairly cold-hardy when dormant, tolerating temperatures down to between -17.7°c and -12.2°c[
329
Title
The Gymnosperm Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.conifers.org/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A vast amount of information on conifers and families of gymnosperms.
]. The young growth in spring however, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].
Prefers a moist well-drained sandy soil but succeeds in most soils though it dislikes dry gravelly or chalky soils[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Prefers a position in semi-shade but tolerates full shade[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
,
81
Title
Conifers.
Publication
 
Author
Rushforth. K.
Publisher
Christopher Helm
Year
1987
ISBN
0-7470-2801-X
Description
Deals with conifers that can be grown outdoors in Britain. Good notes on cultivation and a few bits about plant uses.
] and it also succeeds but does not usually thrive in full sun[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. It grows very well in the mild wet coastal region of W. Scotland where it succeeds even in full sun[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Requires a humid sheltered site[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
], strongly disliking very exposed positions[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
].
The Japanese plum yew is a very slow growing tree[
185
Title
Conifers in the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Mitchell. A. F.
Publisher
HMSO
Year
1975
ISBN
0-11-710012-9
Description
A bit out of date (first published in 1972), but an excellent guide to how well the various species of conifers grow in Britain giving locations of trees.
] with an excellent potential as a food crop in Britain. It generally has a large crop of fruit and seeds, these are often eaten in Japan. In addition, the seeds seem to be immune to the predations of squirrels, the seed on trees growing at Kew Botanical Gardens being untouched even though virtually every other nut tree there has its crop destroyed[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].
Plants are dioecious, but female plants sometimes produce fruits and infertile seeds in the absence of any male plants[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
]. However, at least one male plant for every five females should be grown if you are growing the plants for fruit and seed. Plants have also been known to change sex[
81
Title
Conifers.
Publication
 
Author
Rushforth. K.
Publisher
Christopher Helm
Year
1987
ISBN
0-7470-2801-X
Description
Deals with conifers that can be grown outdoors in Britain. Good notes on cultivation and a few bits about plant uses.
]. Male cones are produced in the axils of the previous year's leaves, whilst female cones are borne at the base of branchlets[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

Edible Uses

Fruit. - raw or cooked[
177
Title
Plants for Human Consumption.
Publication
 
Author
Kunkel. G.
Publisher
Koeltz Scientific Books
Year
1984
ISBN
3874292169
Description
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of Latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
]. The fruit closely resembles a plum in its structure, the fully-ripe flesh is thick, juicy and very sweet with a hint of pine in its flavour[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
,
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. The fruit is about 20 - 30mm long[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
329
Title
The Gymnosperm Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.conifers.org/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A vast amount of information on conifers and families of gymnosperms.
]. The fruit does not always ripen in Britain, before full ripeness it has a disgusting resinous flavour that coats the mouth and refuses to go away for hours[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. (As Cephalotaxus drupacea)

Seed - raw or cooked[
81
Title
Conifers.
Publication
 
Author
Rushforth. K.
Publisher
Christopher Helm
Year
1987
ISBN
0-7470-2801-X
Description
Deals with conifers that can be grown outdoors in Britain. Good notes on cultivation and a few bits about plant uses.
,
105
Title
Tanaka's Cyclopedia of Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Tanaka. T. & Nakao S.
Publisher
Keigaku Publishing; Tokyo
Year
1976
ISBN
-
Description
The most comprehensive list of edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
]. Oily[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
] The seed has a firm texture and a slightly resinous flavour[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. The seed is up to 15mm long. The ovoid or obovoid to ellipsoid seed is 18 - 25mm long and 9 - 12mm wide[
1193
Title
A taxonomic revision of the genus Cephalotaxus (Taxaceae)
Publication
Phytotaxa 84 (1); 1-24
Author
Xue-Dong Lang; Jian-Rong Su; Shu-Gang Lu & Zhi-Jun Zhang
Website
http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/phytotaxa.84.1.1
Publisher
Magnolia Press
Year
2013
ISBN
1179-3163
Description
A review of the genus Cephalotaxus. It can be downloaded from the Internet
].

Medicinal

The branches, roots, leaves, and seeds are a source of many alkaloids, which are used to treat leukaemia and lymphosarcoma[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
]

Agroforestry Uses:

Very tolerant of pruning, this plant makes a very good hedge in shady positions[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

Other Uses

An oil obtained from the seed is used as an illuminant[
105
Title
Tanaka's Cyclopedia of Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Tanaka. T. & Nakao S.
Publisher
Keigaku Publishing; Tokyo
Year
1976
ISBN
-
Description
The most comprehensive list of edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
].

The wood is used to make furniture, farm implements, crafts, and utensils[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
]. (As Cephalotaxus sinensis)

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[
113
Title
The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation.
Publication
 
Author
Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W.
Publisher
Athens Ga. Varsity Press
Year
1987
ISBN
0942375009
Description
A very detailed book on propagating trees. Not for the casual reader.
], it should then germinate in the following spring[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. A hard seedcoat can delay germination, especially in if the seed is not sown as soon as it is ripe[
81
Title
Conifers.
Publication
 
Author
Rushforth. K.
Publisher
Christopher Helm
Year
1987
ISBN
0-7470-2801-X
Description
Deals with conifers that can be grown outdoors in Britain. Good notes on cultivation and a few bits about plant uses.
,
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. Stored seed should be cold-stratified and sown in a cold frame in the spring[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Germination can take 18 months or more. Prick out the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on for at least their first winter under cover. Plant out in late spring after the last expected frosts.
Greenwood cuttings of terminal shoots, mid summer to early autumn in a humid cold frame[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Difficult[
113
Title
The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation.
Publication
 
Author
Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W.
Publisher
Athens Ga. Varsity Press
Year
1987
ISBN
0942375009
Description
A very detailed book on propagating trees. Not for the casual reader.
].

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