Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cephalotaxus - Plum Yew

A genus of 6 or 7 species of evergreen trees and shrubs that are similar to Taxus - Yews however are biologically different in regards to the seeds and the much larger, almost plastic-like foliage. Extremely tough and hardy - the Plum Yews can live for centuries. Insect and disease problems are practically non-existent. Most Cephalotaxus can also be pruned and used as a hedge.
Where during the winter season many typical Taxus - Yews are getting eaten to sticks in deer country; the similar looking but less well known Plum Yew is deer resistant making this evergreen very useful in many places the regular Yews are not. There are few plants other than Rhododendrons that are as good for creating a permanent green undergrowth in a hardwood forest. It also does well in sun or shade, and is tolerant of heat, drought and clay but not salt. These hardy Asian natives deserve to be much more widely used in the landscape.
Propagation is from cutting or seed planted in moist soil during autumn. The seed will require a cold period ( such as winter ) before germinating. It is reported that all species coppice well.



Cephalotaxus fortunei ( Fortune's Plum Yew )
A slow growing, small but heavy set tree, reaching around 35 feet, that is native to central and eastern China. Some records include: 10 years - 10 x 10 feet; largest on record - 66 x 45 feet with a trunk diameter of 5.5 feet; largest in Pensylvania - 26 x 20 feet with a trunk diameter of 1.4 feet @ Morris Arboretum.
The finely pointed linear leaves, up to 5 ( rarely over 3 ) inches in length, are glossy deep green above and have 2 white bands beneath. The leaves are arranged in 2 rows alogn the stems.
The oval seeds, up to an inch in length, are glossy purple-brown.
The seed is surrounded by a soft fleshy coat.
Hardy zones 5 to 10. Very tolerant of shade and drought.

* photos taken on October 17 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.


* photos taken on June 23 2013 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

* photos taken on Oct 21 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC



* photos taken @ Smithsonian Inst, Wash., DC on Aug 25 2014



* photos taken on Feb 2009 @ U.S. National Arboretum


'Lions Plume'
Vigorous growing with longer leaves, up to 6 inches in length.

Cephalotaxus griffithii ( Griffith's Plum Yew )
A slow growing small tree, reaching a maximum height of 50 feet, that is native to northern India, western Sichuan Province in China and northern Burma. It is rare to threatened in the wild.
The linear leaves are up to 3 ( rarely over 2 ) inches in length.
The foliage is deep olive-green to blackish-green above, white beneath.
Hardy north to zone 9

Cephalotaxus hainanensis ( Hainan Plum Yew )
A medium size tree reaching a maximum size of 70 feet, that is native to the island of Hainan off of southern China where it is endangered with extinction. It is very similar to Cephalotaxus mannii. The leaves are up to 3 inches in length.
It may have anti-leukemia medicinal properties.
Hardy north to zone 9, thriving in subtropical climates.

Cephalotaxus harringtonia ( Japanese Plum Yew )
A spreading large shrub to medium size tree reaching around 25 feet in about 40 years, that is native to Japan as well as Korea and northeast China. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 1 foot; 10 years - 8 x 10 feet; largest on record - 50 x 33 feet with a trunk diameter of 4 feet.
The deep olive-green linear leaves, up to 3 inches in length, are arranged in 2 rows along the stems. The leaves do not have sharp tips.
Hardy zones 5 to 10, tolerating as low as -20 F. There is a variation of hardiness depending on seed source in the wild, with the hardiest clones being reported to even thrive in southern Sweden and Nova Scotia, Canada.
The Japanese Plum Yew is very easy to grow thriving in sun or shade. It is tolerant of heat, drought, clay, salt as well as tree roots and is not eaten by insects or deer.
Fossils show the Plum Yew was native to North America before getting wiped out by the previous ice age. It thrives in both the hot humid southeast as well as in the northeast, midwest and much cooler summer Pacific Northwest. It is an excellent plant for mixing with shade Hydrangeas.



* photos taken on July 17 2010 @ Morris Arboretum, Philly, PA




* photos taken on July 17 2010 @ Morris Arboretum, Philly, PA

* photo taken on Oct 21 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC


subsp. 'Drupacea'
Very vigorous but somewhat smaller growing, bushy and spreading. Some records include: 10 years - 8 x 7 feet; largest on record - 30+ x 20 feet.
Very stiff, very deep green, linear leaves, up to 3 ( averaging 2 ) inches in length, are arranged in 2 rows forming a V along the stems.
The unique foliage gives it both a tropical and prehistoric appearance at the same time. A most spectacular landscape plant.

* photo taken on Aug 25 2011 @ Scott Arboretum, Swarthmore, PA

* photo taken on Aug 1 2014 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Oct 21 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC

* photo taken on July 15 2015 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Apr 17 2016 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC



'Dukes Garden' ( Dukes Garden Plum Yew )
A very attractive, very dense, low growing form that is excellent for both residential landscapes as well as parking barrier plantings where regular Taxus Yews often fail to thrive.
When left un-pruned it can reach around 5 feet in height or sometimes more on the best of sites. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 1 foot; 10 years - 4 x 6 feet; largest on record - 7 x 17 feet.
The exceptionally glossy deep green foliage makes this among the most attractive of all low growing conifers!
Hardy zones 5 to 9 tolerating as low as -25 F




* photos taken on July 17 2010 @ Morris Arboretum, Philly, PA

* photo taken on October 24 2010 in Washington, D.C.

* photo taken on May 7 2012 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on July 11 2014 in Washington, DC


* photos taken @ Smithsonian Inst, Wash., DC on Aug 25 2014




* photos taken on Oct 23 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC




* photo taken on Feb 8 2015 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

* photo taken on Mar 24 2015 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on June 28 2015 in Columbia, MD


* photo taken on Aug 11 2015 in Columbia, MD


* photo taken on Aug 27 2015 in Columbia, MD


* photos taken on Nov 4 2015 in Columbia, MD


* photo taken on Dec 7 2015 in Ellicott City, MD

* photo taken on July 8 2016 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on Feb 7 2017 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Mar 1 2017 in Columbia, MD



* photo taken on May 27 2017 @ Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, VA


'Fastigiata' ( Fastiata Japanese Plum Yew )
A columnar, very upright form that varies in height depending upon pruning. Fast growing, if left alone it may reach 30 x 20 feet after many decades. Some records include: 10 years - 6 x 4 feet; 36 years - trunk diameter of 5 inches. This is among the best of all landscape plants when a vertical column of dark foliage is needed, making an impression framing a house or enterance.
The densely packed linear leaves, up to 3 inches in length, are luxuriant glossy, black-green in color. The bottlebrush-like plumes created by the foliage radiating around the stems, creates even more interest on this choice conifer.

* photo taken @ U.S. National Arboretum on Feb 2009

* photo of unknown internet origin


* photo of Cephalotaxus installed at my favorite clients home last fall

* photos taken on May 16 2010 @ Cylburn Arboretum, Baltimore, MD





* photo taken on annual Horticultural Society of Maryland Garden Tour

* photos taken on July 17 2010 @ Morris Arboretum, Philly, PA

* photos taken on Aug 25 2011 @ Scott Arboretum, Swarthmore College, PA



* photos taken on Oct 31 2013 in Towson, MD


* photos taken on Oct 23 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC



* photos taken on Apr 12 2015 in Odenton, MD


* photos taken on June 28 2015 in Columbia, MD




* photo taken on Aug 11 2015 in Columbia, MD


* photos taken on Aug 27 2015 in Columbia, MD



* photos taken on Nov 4 2015 in Columbia, MD



* photos taken on Jun 14 2016 in Columbia, MD


* photo taken on July 8 2016 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Aug 17 2016 in Columbia, MD



* photo taken on Jan 18 2016 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on Apr 27 2017 in Columbia, MD



'Gold Splash'

* photos taken on Mar 18 2017 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD


* photo taken on Apr 23 2017 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD


'Hedgehog'
Dense and compact, reaching a maximum size of only 3 x 4 feet. It makes a great Boxwood substitute.
The foliage is glossy rich mid-green.
Hardy zones 6 to 9.

* photo taken on Nov 12 2016 in Mt Airy, MD


subsp 'Koreana'
Basically just Cephalotaxus harringtonia originating from Korea. Nearly identical to Japanese clones though hardier in zone 5.

* photos taken @ U.S. National Arboretum on Feb 2009

* photo taken on Feb 8 2014 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC



'Korean Gold'
Moderate growing and columnar in habit, reaching up to 12 x 6 feet, with golden-yellow foliage, up to 3 inches in length. Some records include: growth rate - 1 foot; 10 years - 6 x 2 feet.
A great focal point plant in a dark shaded site, and it does prefer partial or light shade ( the variegated foliage may scorch in full sun in hot climates ).
Hardy zones 6 + ( 5 reported on protected sites )

* photos taken on Feb 8 2015 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC




'Prostrata' ( Spreading Japanese Plum Yew )
Very similar to Dukes Garden variety below but slightly less hardy ( zone 6 instead of 5 - though reported as hardy in Chicago on protected sites ). Dense in habit with long linear leaves, it typically reaches around 2 x 5 feet in 10 years. Some records include: 19 years - 3.5 x 12 feet; largest on record is 5 x 20 feet. Typically much shorter on average sites, it can easily be pruned much smaller or can be left alone to form a moderate height groundcover.

* photos taken on Feb 2009 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC


* photos taken on Mar 28 2010 in Columbia, MD


* photo taken on October 17 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photos taken on Mar 23 2011 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD




* photo taken on Aug 25 2011 @ Scott Arboretum, Swarthmore, PA

* photos taken on May 7 2012 in Ellicott City, MD

* photos taken on on Aug 23 2014 in Columbia, MD











* photo taken on Oct 23 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC

* photos taken on Feb 8 2015 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC


* photos taken on June 16 2015 in Columbia, MD



* photo taken on July 15 2015 in Columbia, MD


* photo taken on Aug 11 2015 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on July 9 2016 in Columbia, MD









* photo taken on Feb 7 2016 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on Apr 23 2017 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

* photo taken on May 17 2017 in Annapolis, MD

* photo taken on May 19 2017 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on May 27 2017 @ Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, VA


* photos taken on July 8 2017 in Columbia, MD






subsp 'Sinensis'
Basically Cephalotaxus harringtonii originating in China. Personally I think it looks the same.


Cephalotaxus mannii
A very ornamental upright medium size tree, up to 70 feet, that is native from India to southern China where it is endangered with extinction. Some records include: largest on record - 100 feet with a trunk diameter of 4 feet.
The deep green linear leaves are up to 1.5 inches in length.
Hardy zones 8 to 10

Cephalotaxus oliveri ( Oliver's Plum Yew )
A large shrub to small tree, reaching up to 16 feet, that is native to mountains in Guizhou, Hunan, Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces in southern China as well as northern Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.
It is endangered with extinction in the wild. Some records include: 10 years - 6 x 4 feet.
The linear leaves are up to 1.3 inches in length.
The scaly bark is grayish-brown.
The fruit are red.
Hardy zones 7 to 9 ( reports of 5 & 6 ) in partial to full shade, preferring a moist site protected from excessive wind. It thrives in the milder, wetter climates of western Scotland and Ireland.
Very tolerant of pruning and can be used as a hedge.

Cephalotaxus sinensis ( Chinese Plum Yew )
A medium size tree, up to 30 feet, that is native to humid mountain forests of western and central China. Some records include: 10 years - 8 x 4 feet; largest on record - 50 feet with a trunk diameter of 4 feet.
The soft-tipped, thick, linear leaves, are up to 2.6 inches in length.
The foliage is glossy green above and blue-green to white beneath.
The edible, reddish-purple fruit are up to 1 x 0.6 inches.
The brownish bark is smooth, later becoming shredded.
Hardy zones 5 to 9. The hardiest seed source is likely fully hardy in zone 5 ( though further testing is needed ) since it is native at elevations of 1800 to 7000 feet in western and central China.

* photo taken on Feb 8 2015 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

* photo taken on Apr 24 2016 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC


var 'wilsoniana'
Also called Cephalotaxus wilsoniana. Similar except that it has pendulous branches that bear longer leaves, up to 4 ( rarely over 2 ) inches in length, and is native to high mountains of Taiwan where it is endangered.
Hardy zones 8 to 9.

RELATED PLANTS

Saxegothea conspicua ( Prince Albert Yew )
A conical, medium-sized tree, reaching a maximum size of 100 feet with a trunk diameter of 6.5 feet, that is native to temperate rainforest of southern Chile and neighboring southern Argentina. Some records include: 10 years - 4 x 3 feet. Very long-lived, it can persist up to 750 years.
The leaves, up to 1.3 inches in length, spiral around the stems. The taxus-like foliage is deep green above, bluish-white beneath.
The exfoliating bark is gray-brown.
Hardy zones 8 to 9 in full sun or partial shade on moist, well drained soil. It is very tolerant of shade.

1 comment:

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