Taxus × media
This taxon is not universally accepted. It is used here in the horticultural sense to represent a group of cultivars derived in cultivation through crossing Taxus cuspidate and Taxaus baccata[
Taxus × media is an evergreen shrub. A garden hybrid, various cultivars have been developed that can range in shape from low and, wide to tall and narrow. It can vary in height from 30cm - 6 metres tall.
The plant is commonly grown as an ornamental, where it can be used as a hedge or ground cover. There is a range of cultivars suitable for garden use. The fruit is edible, the plant is a source of an anti-cancer drug and the wood has a range of uses.
All parts of the plant, except the flesh of the fruit, are highly poisonous[
A hybrid species of garden origin, Taxus cuspidate and Taxaus baccata
Not known in the wild.
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Dormant plants of Taxus × media are very cold-hardy, able to tolerate temperatures falling below -20°c[
]. The new growth in spring, however, is tender and can be damaged by light frosts[
Plants are very shade tolerant[
], though they can also succeed in full sun. They thrive in almost any soil, acid or alkaline, as long as it is well-drained[
]. Succeeds in dry soils. Plants grow best in a position sheltered from cold, dry winds[
Any pruning or trimming is best carried out in early spring[
], though it is possible to trim the plant at any time in the growing season[
Foliage may turn brown in winter (winter burn) from exposure to dry winter winds. Twig dieback may occur in winter or at other times in the year as a result of damage caused by sudden and extreme winter temperature changes[
]. This species, however, is noted for having better resistance to heat stress and to winter burn than most other yews.
Leaves have a reddish tinge when the plants are grown in a sunny position[
Plants produce very little fibrous root and should be planted in their final positions when still small[
Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[
A slow-growing species[
A dioecious species, both male and female forms must be grown if fruit and seed are required.
The cultivar 'Sargentii' was 3 metres tall and 1 metre wide at the Hillier Arboretum in September 1993. It was growing well and carrying a good crop of tasty fruit though the harvest time seemed to be somewhat later than that of Taxus baccata[
Fruit - raw[
]. Very sweet and gelatinous, most people find it delicious though some find it sickly[
]. The fruit is a fleshy berry about 10mm in diameter and containing a single seed[
]. All other parts of this plant, including the seed, are highly poisonous. When eating the fruit you should spit out the large seed found in the fruit's centre. Should you swallow the whole seed it will just pass straight through you without harm, if the seed has been bitten into, however, it could cause some problems.
Modern research has shown that yew trees contain the substance 'taxol' in their shoots and bark. Taxol has shown exciting potential as an anti-cancer drug, particularly in the treatment of ovarian cancers[
]. This remedy is very toxic and, even when used externally, should only be used under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[
]. See also the notes above on toxicity.
The plant responds well to trimming and several cultivars can be grown as a hedge[
]. The cultivars 'Wardii', 'Hicksii', 'Densiformis', 'Citation', and 'Taunton' have all been recommended[
The cultivar 'Everlow' frows around 30 - 45cm tall and up to 150cm wide. It can be used as a ground cover, especially in shady conditions[
The bark of most, if not all species of taxus is a moderate source of tannins[
]. It is used in several species to produce a red dye[
Wood - strong, hard, heavy. Used for paddles, fence posts etc.
Seed - can be very slow to germinate, often taking 2 or more years[
]. It is best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn when it should germinate 18 months later. Stored seed may take 2 years or more to germinate. 4 months warm followed by 4 months cold stratification may help reduce the germination time[
]. Harvesting the seed 'green' (when fully developed but before it has dried on the plant) and then sowing it immediately has not been found to reduce the germination time because the inhibiting factors develop too early[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and grow them on in pots in a cold frame. The seedlings are very slow-growing and will probably require at least 2 years of pot cultivation before being large enough to plant out. Any planting out is best done in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts[
]. This is a hybrid species, it will not breed true from seed.
Cuttings of half-ripe terminal shoots, 5 - 8cm long, July/August in a shaded frame. Should root by late September but leave them in the frame over winter and plant out in late spring[
]. High percentage[
Cuttings of ripe terminal shoots, taken in winter after a hard frost, in a shaded frame[