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The Pacific or western yew is a small (to 15 m) evergreen coniferous trees species that is native to the Pacific Northwest of North America where is is found in Alberta, British Columbia, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and California (Hils 2011). In British Columbia, this species is common in coastal areas and in the south-central and south-eastern regions of the province in the lowland and montane zones (Douglas et al.2000). Habitat range from "open to dense forests, along streams, moist flats, slopes, deep ravines, and coves" (Hils 2011).
The Pacific yew is on the IUCN red list of threatened species: "Native populations have been under considerable pressure from the scale of exploitation of the bark by pharmaceutical companies." (Conifer Specialist Group 1998). This species is a source of the cancer drug taxol (Hils 2011).
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General: Small tree 2-15 m tall, often shrubby; branches spreading to drooping in flat sprays; bark thin, with outer purplish scales over reddish to reddish-purple inner bark; male and female plants separate.
Leaves: Needles 2-ranked, flattened, and pointed at tip, (12) 14-18 mm long, 1-2 mm broad; yellow-green and paler on lower surface.
Cones: Fruit is a round, red, fleshy aril, 5-6 mm long, borne on the underside of the branches; pollen cones yellow, globe-shaped, 3 mm long.
A shade-tolerant, submontane to subalpine, Western North American conifer distributed equally in the Pacific and Cordilleran regions. Occurs in cool temperate and cool mesothermal climates; its occurrence increases with increasing precipitation and decreases with increasing latitude and elevation. Scattered in coniferous forests; common on water-receiving sites, frequent on water-collecting sites, and occasional on water-shedding sites. Characteristic of temperate and mesothermal coniferous forests.
Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2017. E-Flora BC:
Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia [eflora.bc.ca]. Lab for
Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British
Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed:
25/05/2017 1:20:00 PM
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