Japanese yew

Japanese yew

The Japanese Yew (Cuspidata) is generally described as a perennial tree. This is not native to the U.S. (United States) and has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the mid spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are retained year to year. The Japanese Yew (Cuspidata) has a moderate life span relative to most other plant species and a slow growth rate. At maturity, the typical Japanese Yew (Cuspidata) will reach up to 50 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 30 feet.

The Japanese Yew (Cuspidata) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by bare root, container, cuttings. It has a none ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have low vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -28°F. has medium tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Japanese Yew is yet another name for a member of the extremely deadly Yew family or genus Podocarpus or taxus species. There has been some dispute over the correct naming of the plant and it can be found under a variety of  aliases such as Yew Podocarp, Yew Pine, Japanese Podocarp, Buddhist Pine, Southern Yew, Longleaf Podocarp, Buddhist Pine, Disciples-of-Buddha Pine, Pine Yew, and Japanese Yew, Kusa-maki plant, Lo-han-sung, and Inu-Maki.

As with basically any member of the Yew Family “Finding the animal Dead” is usually the first sign of Yew ingestion this is due primarily to the toxin which is believed to be Taxine. Even a small dose is exceptionally toxic with dogs needing as little as 2 or 3 grams of material to cause a fatality, and a single mouthful having been reported as causing a horse or cow to drop dead with 10-15 minutes. So it is conceivable that with such lethality that just playing with a stick from the Taxus species could inadvertently cause a dog to ingest a lethal dose.

As with other Taxus species there is no antidote and a successful treatment has never been demonstrated in laboratories. Animals having ingested members of the Taxus species generally do not survive.

In a rare non fatal case of ingestion involving a dog, central nervous system disorders including tetanic seizures, mydraisis, increased aggressiveness accompanied by severe gastroenteritis lasting longer than a week was reported.

First Aid: Induce vomiting within 30 minutes of ingestion and administer activated charcoal slurry. Warning by inducing vomiting there is the risk of triggering cardiac or central nervous system complications. Seek Emergency Medical Veterinary Attention. The veterinarian may use cardiac drug therapy but success is unlikely.

Gardener's Guide to Growing the Japanese Yew

Japanese yew is considered to be a small tree or large shrub. Left unpruned, it can rach up to 40 feet in height and have a spread that is about 20 feet wide. This shrub is native to Japan and southern China, but will grow in other parts of the world with a similar climate. The leaves are needle-like and dark green in color. It also produces cones. Only the female cones produce fruit. Take care when choosing a location, because the fruit of the Japanese yew is poisonous.

Planting Japanese Yew
Japanese Yew likes fertile, well-drained soil. It has a slow growth rate, but if fed during the first few years, it may grow more quickly. It prefers partial shade to some sun and grows very well in zones 8 through 10. It tolerates salt spray but isn't fond of hot winds.

Yews are sold as live plants. Once at home, dig a planting hole that is twice as wide as the root ball and as deep as the soil in the container. Scarify the sides of the planting hole with a pitchfork or a shovel. Center the Japanese Yew in the planting hole and backfill with amended soil. For hedging, set the plants four to six feet apart.

Create a watering ring around the perimeter of the planting hole to help divert water to the outside roots. Mulch with at least three inches of compost or pulverized bark and water well. You can level out the watering ring in the future, but it's good to have it in the first year to encourage healthy root growth. Giving the yew plenty of water will encourage growth. Keep the soil moist to a depth of 18 inches for young plants.

Care and Pruning
Fertilize the Japanese yew for the first year with phosphorus-based fertilizer to encourage root growth. After the yew becomes established, do a soil test in the spring to check for low nutrients. If the soil is in good shape, an all-around shrub and tree fertilizer is all that's needed. If the soil test shows low nutrients, look for a fertilizer that's rich in the missing minerals.

It's easy to prunt Japanese yew to fit your needs. If you want a taller tree, prune throughout the year only for dead and decaying wood and plant matter. If you want a hedge, prune the top as needed to keep the hedge at the height you need. If you're growing the Japanese yew as a hedge, be sure to prune it early, so that the bottom of the shrub branches out.


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