Japanese plum yew is an evergreen shrub, and it's form may be either low and wide-spreading or more upright, depending on the cultivar. Its handsome foliage consists of long, flat, glossy, deep-green needles arranged in a V shape on its stems.
Male Japanese plum yews bear small pollen cones, while pollinated female plants develop plum-like, fleshy-coated seeds. Though one of its most valuable traits is its superb shade tolerance, it will grow well on sunny sites, too.
Common name: Japanese plum yew
Botanical name: Cephalotaxus harringtonia
Plant type: Evergreen shrub
Zones: 6 to 9
Height: 5 to 10 feet
- Sun: Sun or shade
- Soil: Tolerates a range of soil types
- Moisture: Moist but well-drained; somewhat drought-tolerant once established
- Mulch: 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch
- Pruning: Prune only to remove broken branches or improve form.
- Fertilizer: Apply compost or soluble fertilizer annually or as needed.
Pests and diseases
- No serious problems
- ‘Duke Gardens' has a compact, spreading form and deep-green foliage that resists sunburn.
- ‘Fastigiata' has an upright columnar form.
- ‘Korean Gold' has an upright form and greenish-gold foliage.
- ‘Prostrata' has a low, wide spreading form.
- Japanese plum yew looks beautiful planted in groups or masses along shady drives, on slopes or under tall shade trees.
- It makes an ideal backdrop for shade-tolerant perennials like hostas, foamflower, heart-leaf brunnera, ferns and hellebores.
- It tolerates sun better in cooler regions where nighttime temperatures drop enough to help perk up the foliage.
All in the family
- It's sometimes listed as a member of the plum yew family (Cephalotaxaceae), containing only the genus Cephalotaxus, but other botanists roll that family into the larger yew family (Taxaceae).
- Though less widely available, the closely related (and very similar looking) species C. fortunei and C. oliveri are also handsome landscape plants for shade.
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