While the yews are very closely related, and some
botanists place them all under one species, it is more common to differentiate
them. Taxus baccata, or English yew is commonly grown in Maryland,
especially the cultivar ‘Repandens.' Taxus brevifolia, Pacific yew, is
native to the Pacific Northwest, and was the original source of Taxol, a drug
used to treat cancer. Other commonly found species are Canada yew, or Taxus
canadensis, Japanese yew, or Taxus cuspidata, and Taxus xmedia,
a cross between Taxus baccata and Taxus cuspidata.
On our own campus, the Taxus baccata at the southeast
corner of Reckord Armory is the Prince George’s County Champion English yew.
To develop the above description, we used many sources,
including Michael Dirr’s Manual of Woody Landscape Plants (Champaign,
Illinois: Stipes Publishing, LLC, 1998), and the following websites: Dendrology
at Virginia Tech (dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/main.htm), the University of
Connecticut Plant Database (www.hort.uconn.edu/plants/),
Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org), and the
Ancient Yew Group (www.ancient-yew.org).