Taxus cuspidata Sieb. et Zucc. ex Endl.
Japanese yew, Japanese red pine
This is a distinctive, original coniferous plant. Although its range is quite extensive, this tree falls into the category of a most rare species and grows individually or in small groups. However, it is not in danger of extinction. Yew bears abundant fruits and normally propagates itself by seeds. In some places, the wild animals completely destroy young growth of yew by nibbling on the treetops and even lower branches of large trees. Remarkably, this group of conifers do not have typical cones, but carry the seeds in a fleshy bright red pouch called a «cone-berry».
Needles are 1.2 -1.6 cm in length and 2-3.5 mm in width, soft, flat and pointed, dark green and glossy from above with lighter and non-glossy appearance from below. Needles sit individually forming spirals on vertical shoots combs on side branches. Needles stay on branches for 4-6 years.
In the woods yew is easily recognized by the light, lacy and very dark crown.
The bark is red-brown, thin and exfoliates in long, thin plates or tapes with age. The thin branches are brick-red-brown.
The trunks are not well-proportioned, tapering and shaped irregularly in cross-section.
The trees reach 22 m in height with trunk diameters of 100-120 cm. In the southern parts of its range (Sakhalin Island, Iturup and middle Kuril Islands), the shrub-like or trailing forms of yew (Dwarf yew (Taxus nana)) are identified as independent species. Yew is one of the slowest-growing species. Evidently, it lives about 800-1000 years.
It grows in the coniferous-broad-leaved forests mainly on shady slopes. Independent yew plantations are formed only on the islands of Petrov and Naumov in Primorye.
The wood is red-brown, turns dark in the open air. It is very resistant to rotting - «non-rotting tree». The needles and wood are toxic to humans.
It is entered in the «USSR Red Book» and the «RSFSR Red Book».
Distribution in the Russia's Far East. Primorsky Krai, along the Amur River in Khabarovsky Krai, Sakhalin Island, Kuril Islands (from Kunashir to Rasshua).
General distribution. Japan, Korean Peninsula, Northeastern China.