This taxon is not universally accepted. We are following the treatment in the Flora of N. America[
], but Villareal Q., J.Á. & Estrada C., E. (2012). Flora de Veracruz 155: 1-8. Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones sobre Recursos Bióticos, Xalapa, Veracruz, treat it as Taxus globosa floridana (Nutt. ex Chapm.) Spjut[
The species of Taxus are more geographically than morphologically separable; and they were all treated by Pilger (1903) as subspecies of Taxus baccata. All species are poisonous; most contain the anti-cancer agent taxol; and a study of heartwood constituents of Taxus baccata, Taxus brevifolia, Taxus cuspidata and Taxus floridana found them to be chemically almost identical. However, the vast ecological amplitude displayed by the various described species (over 60° of latitude and an impressive temperature and precipitation range) suggests that they are, in a meaningful sense, true species. Detailed study of the genus (not neglecting the cultivated representatives), including extensive fieldwork, is much needed and long overdue[
Taxus baccata floridana (Nutt. ex Chapm.) Pilg.
Taxus canadensis floridana (Nutt. ex Chapm.) Silba
Taxus globosa floridana (Nutt. ex Chapm.) Spjut
Taxus floridana is an evergreen shrub or a small tree (often multi-stemmed) with an irregular crown of numerous stout, spreading branches; it can grow from 2 - 5 metres tall, occasionally reaching 10 metres[
]. The bole usually branches from low-down, in mature specimens it has been measured up to 38cm in diameter[
Due to its limited range, this species is almost certainly not exploited from the wild, except perhaps as a wayside nibble of its fruit.
Clear felling of Pinus palustris forests during the 19th century along with selective logging of the slope forests in the early 1900s may have resulted in range reduction and habitat fragmentation during the 19th and 20th centuries. The most immediate threat facing Florida yew, however, is the lack of regeneration; a causal agent for this has not yet been identified. Rubbing and browsing by white tailed deer is also a problem as it may lead to the death of individual stems. As hunting within protected areas is prohibited, deer numbers within these areas increase during the hunting season (winter), resulting in increased pressure on the yew trees. The plant is classified as 'Critically Endangered' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
All parts of the plant, except the flesh of the fruit (actually an aril), are potentially highly poisonous. They contain the alkaloid taxine and , if ingested, can cause nervousness, trembling, slow pulse, pupil dilation, difficult breathing, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness and convulsions - in larger doses it can be fatal, having a paralyzing affect on the heart[
Southeastern N. America - Florida, northern Mexico
An understorey plant, found in small, mostly clonal stands in moist, shaded ravines in broad-leaved forests, growing both in open forest habitats and in dense thickets; at elevations up to 30 metres[
Taxus floridana is somewhat cold hardy, tolerating occasional, short-lived temperatures falling to between -6.6°c and -1.1°c[
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[
Mid and lower mountain slopes within a few ravines along the the Apalachicola River Bluffs area of Florida. Soils are generally moist and acidic. It occurs with a rich assemblage of evergreen and deciduous species including another threatened endemic conifer, Torreya taxifolia. Florida yew is generally shade tolerant and very fire sensitive.
A dioecious species, both male and female forms must be grown if fruit and seed are required.
We have no specific information for this species, but the fruit (a fleshy aril) of all members of the genus should be edible. The following is a general description.
Fruit - raw[
]. Very sweet and gelatinous, most people find it delicious though some find it sickly[
]. A number of people who like the flavour do not like the texture which is often described as being 'snotty'[
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 it is bitten into, however, you will notice a very bitter flavour and the seed should immediately be spat out or it could cause some problems. The fruit is a fleshy berry about 10mm in diameter and containing a single seed[
Florida yew contains taxol, the same cancer-treatment compound found in Taxus brevifolia and Taxus canadensis, and contains it in similar quantities. The rarity of the species has largely precluded economic exploitation for taxol[
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[
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[
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[