An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

American Yew Female Cones

12-20-13  American Yew female cones IMG_6118Being a gymnosperm (its seeds are not enclosed in an ovary), American Yew, Taxus canadensis, lacks true flowers or fruits and possesses separate male and female (seed) cones. Each male cone produces up to 100 pollen sacs or more. The modified female cones do not resemble the typical woody cones of evergreens. Yews are the only conifers that produce seed cones that consist of a fleshy (and mucilaginous), scarlet, cup-shaped structure called an aril, each of which holds one seed. The seeds (not the aril) are poisonous to humans, but thrushes, waxwings and other birds consume them and aid in their dispersal.

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5 responses

  1. What a beautiful photo!

    December 20, 2013 at 7:17 pm

  2. When I was living in Hampshire (England) the yews there in the often acidic soil (gorgeous beech trees too!) were ancient markers along fields and woodlands. Looking at the Latin name for your New England species, I am wondering if indeed the species you have is native to Vermont and your surrounding states – or was brought across the Atlantic by pioneers and pilgrims?

    December 21, 2013 at 12:57 am

  3. Jean Harrison

    What a lovely photo, in bright Christmas colors. Thank you.

    December 21, 2013 at 1:38 am

  4. http://www.backyardgardener.com/gardening/plantcare/taxus.html

    This link will explain about Canadian Yew. It is native and the English Yew is not hardy in more northern parts of New England.

    December 22, 2013 at 12:21 am

  5. Perfect image of one of my favorite evergreens. Always enjoy your detailed natural history discussions too.

    December 22, 2013 at 12:53 am

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