The Q&A Archives: Poisonous Yew

Question: How poisonous and dangerous is dense spreading yew (taxus x media 'densiformis')? Is it dangerous to plant near homes with children?

Answer: English yew (Taxus) is an introduced ornamental shrub that is hardy in the warmest parts of the U.S. This shrub has caused poisoning and death in cattle, horses, and humans. Ingesting leaves, bark, or seeds can cause poisoning in all animals. The fleshy fruit pulp is considered to be nontoxic (or low in toxicity). Taxine, a complex of alkaloids, is found in the plant. Children should be taught not to eat the fruit or seeds of this plant. Animals should not have access to the shrub or clippings of the branches (Cooper and Johnson 1984, Feldman et al. 1987).

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