Index of Species Information
SPECIES: Taxus canadensis
SPECIES: Taxus canadensis
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION :
Sullivan, Janet. 1993. Taxus canadensis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online].
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station,
Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available:
Taxus minor Brit.
Taxus baccata L. var. canadensis Gray
Taxus baccata L. var. minor MIchx.
Taxus baccata L. var. procumbens Loud
SCS PLANT CODE :
COMMON NAMES :
The accepted scientific name for Canada yew is Taxus canadensis Marsh.
[9,19]. There are no subspecies, varieties, or forms.
LIFE FORM :
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS :
No special status
OTHER STATUS :
DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE
SPECIES: Taxus canadensis
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION :
Canada yew is found from Newfoundland west to Manitoba, south to
Virginia, Tennessee, Illinois, and Iowa [9,34,45].
FRES10 White - red - jack pine
FRES11 Spruce - fir
FRES18 Maple - beech - birch
FRES19 Aspen - birch
CT IL IN IA KY ME MD MA MI MN
NY NC OH PA TN VT VA WV WI MB
NB NF NS ON PE PQ
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :
KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :
K093 Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
K094 Conifer bog
K095 Great Lakes pine forest
K096 Northeastern spruce - fir forest
K097 Southeastern spruce - fir forest
K102 Beech - maple forest
K103 Mixed mesophytic forest
K104 Appalachian oak forest
K106 Northern hardwoods
K107 Northern hardwoods - fir forest
K108 Northern hardwoods - spruce forest
SAF COVER TYPES :
1 Jack pine
5 Balsam fir
12 Black spruce
13 Black spruce - tamarack
17 Pin cherry
19 Gray birch - red maple
20 White pine - northern red oak - red maple
21 Eastern white pine
22 White pine - hemlock
23 Eastern hemlock
24 Hemlock - yellow birch
25 Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch
26 Sugar maple - basswood
27 Sugar maple
28 Black cherry - maple
30 Red spruce - yellow birch
31 Red spruce - sugar maple - beech
32 Red spruce
33 Red spruce - balsam fir
34 Red spruce - Fraser fir
35 Paper birch - red spruce - balsam fir
37 Northern white-cedar
60 Beech - sugar maple
108 Red maple
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES :
Canada yew is a shrub-layer component of many forest associations,
including spruce-fir, mixed conifer-northern hardwoods, and northern
hardwoods . It is indicative of cool and moist, old-growth
Common understory associates in many forest types include mountain maple
(Acer spicatum), striped maple (A. pensylvanicum), beaked hazelnut
(Corylus cornuta), leatherwood (Dirca palustris), prickly gooseberry
(Ribes cynosbati), prickly currant (R. lacustre), red currant (R.
triste), red raspberry (Rubus idaeus), serviceberries (Amelanchier
spp.), American fly honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis), partidgeberry
(Mitchella repens), and scarlet elder (Sambucus pubens) [7,20,40]. In
addition to the above-mentioned species, shrub layer associates in
climax, eastern hemlock forests include alternate-leaved dogwood (Cornus
alternifolia) and hobblebush (Viburnum alnifolium) . Ground layer
associates in many forest types include shining clubmoss (Lycopodim
lucidulum), common woodsorrel (Oxalis montana), wild lily-of-the-valley
(Maianthemum canadense), woodfern (Dryopteris spinulosa), and yellow
beadlily (Clintonia borealis) [7,24]. Bryophytes and lichens that are
common in the climax forests in which Canada yew occurs are feathermoss
(Pleurozium schreberi), dicranum mosses (Dicranum spp.), Ptilidium
pulcherrimum, and reindeer mosses (Cladonia spp.) .
Publications naming Canada yew as an indicator or shrub-layer dominant
include the following:
The principal plant associations of the Saint Lawrence Valley .
Wilderness ecology: virgin plant communities of the Boundary Waters
Canoe Area .
SPECIES: Taxus canadensis
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE :
Canada yew provides year-round browse for moose and is an important
winter food for white-tailed deer where it is available . The
fleshy aril of Canada yew is eaten by many birds, including ruffed
grouse, pheasants, and various nongame birds, such as cedar waxwings,
robind, and starlings [25,35,43].
All parts of Canada yew, except for the aril, are poisonous to horses
and cattle .
Canada yew is highly preferred by moose and white-tailed deer .
NUTRITIONAL VALUE :
COVER VALUE :
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES :
OTHER USES AND VALUES :
The aril of Canada yew can be eaten by humans . Native American
tribes in Michigan and Quebec used the foliage to make a beverage .
Canada yew is suggested for conservation planting, though it would
probably not do well except on shady, moist sites . It is planted
as an ornamental but is more often used as parental stock for the
formation of new hybrids. It is not as versatile as other species of
yew for ornamental purposes. Numerous horticultural varieties are
OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
Canada yew is intolerant to moderate or heavy browsing by moose or deer
[23,30,38]. Browse availability can be classified as follows on the
basis of use of balsam fir (Abies balsamea), Canada yew, and paper birch
(Betula papyrifera): if Canada yew is highly or moderately used, the
range is below carrying capacity; if balsam fir is heavily browsed,
Canada yew has already been browsed to extirpation . Canada yew was
once abundant on Isle Royale, Michigan, occurring with 67 percent
frequency on plots recorded by surveyors in 1847 . Since
colonization of the island by moose, Canada yew has become rare and is
increasing only in moose exlosures [1,17,26].
In Nova Scotia, removal of the hemlock overstory destroys Canada yew; it
is recommended that some old-gowth stands be preserved to maintain the
presence of Canada yew as deer browse . Any removal of the
overstory is likely to be detrimental to Canada yew . In a mixed
conifer-hardwood forest in New Hampshire, Canada yew cover was
"inconsequential" 8 years after a light, selective cut. Heavier levels
of harvest resulted in it being eliminated .
Canada yew is more cold hardy that English yew (Taxus baccata) or
Japanese yew (T. cuspidata), which are also used for ornamentals .
BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
SPECIES: Taxus canadensis
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS :
Canada yew is a native, evergreen, coniferous shrub. It grows from 1 to
3 feet (0.3-0.9 m) and occasionally up to 6 feet (2.8 m) tall. It is
rarely arborescent [5,9]. The dense, spreading branches can grow up to
6.6 feet (2 m) long, spreading from the base for about one-third of
their length. The bark is nearly smooth. The fruit is a fleshy,
cuplike aril surrounding a single seed .
RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :
REGENERATION PROCESSES :
Canada yew is monoecious, producing a single seed per female strobilus
, but under certain conditions it is dioecious. Size appears to
influence sex expression. Small Canada yews tend to be male, but if
monoecious, they tend to have more female strobili than male stroboli.
Large Canada yews are typically monoecious but with male-biased
strobilus ratios. Stresses such as browsing increase the proportion of
individual males in the population; however, the number of female
strobili in the population is greater than that of male strobili. The
adaptive significance of this differential sex expression is unclear
Most yews produce some seed almost every year. The seeds are
disseminated by birds. Natural germination usually does not take place
until the second year. The seeds exhibit a strong but variable dormancy
that can be broken by combined warm and cold stratification .
Canada yew commonly reproduces by layering, forming a continuous
population of genetically identical plants. The connections between
genets usually rot .
SITE CHARACTERISTICS :
Canada yew occurs in humid, continental climates. It grows on moist,
poszolic, or leached loam soils; growth is best on well-drained silt
loams of pH 5.0 to 7.5 [5,13,25,40]. Canada yew occurs in cool, rich,
damp woods and wooded swamps; on banks; along bog margins; and ravines
[34,44,45]. Elevational range of Canada yew in the Adirondack Mountains
of New York is from 100 to 2,300 (30-700 m) .
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS :
Obligate Climax Species
Canada yew does not occur in early seral of mid-seral communities. It
is a slow-growing, shade-tolerant species that grows best in the stable
environmental conditions of climax forests [25,33]. Growth is best in
at least partial shade . Canada yew appears to have a competitive
advantage over intolerant species only under a well-developed canopy
. On Isle Royale, Michigan, Canada yew occurred in moderate shade,
densely populating some sites, but it did not occur under the very dense
shade of balsam fir. Balsam fir, in turn, does not reproduce where
Canada yew forms dense ground layers. Canada yew populations migrate;
they increase in size by layering, and die back in older portions of the
genet, which then allows other plants to come in [6,13,34,43].
Disturbances tend to exclude Canada yew. In the early part of this
century, a virgin forest in Connecticut that had reamined free of fire
for more than 300 years had a well-established population of Canada yew.
Second-growth forests in the same area had no Canada yew in their
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT :
Male and female strobili open from April to May in the upper midwestern
states. The aril ripens the same year from July through September .
SPECIES: Taxus canadensis
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS :
Canada yew is not well adapted to fire.
FIRE REGIMES :
Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this
species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under
"Find Fire Regimes".
POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :
Shrub without adventitious-bud root crown
SPECIES: Taxus canadensis
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT :
Canda yew is probably easily killed by fire. Specific information on
its degree of sensitivity is lacking.
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT :
PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE :
Canada yew was locally abundant in a birch-aspen-spruce community on
Isle Royale, Michigan, 36 years after a wildfire. In the same area it
was present in an old-growth forest that had been free of fire for 80 to
120 or more years.
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE :
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
Fire is likely to result in decreased Canada yew populations; any
disturbance that opens the canopy reduces the competitive advantage of
the shade-tolerant Canada yew . The decline of Canada yew on Isle
Royale, Michigan, has bee partly atrributed to fire .
SPECIES: Taxus canadensis
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