Plant Profile: Taxus floridana, Florida Yew
La’Ena Schmick and Elizabeth Ramirez
This post is one of a series from professor Nisse Goldberg's Botany students at Jacksonville University.
|Figure 1. Taxus floridana, Florida Yew|
Specific epithet: floridana
Taxus floridana, or Florida Yew, is a member of the Coniferophyta family and one of two species in the family Taxaceae recorded in Florida. It is an endemic and endangered species found only on the Apalachicola River between Chattahoochee and Bristol in Gadsden and Liberty County. Torreya taxifolia, another endangered species in the same family, is also found in the same counties as T. floridana, in addition to Jackson County.
|Figure 2. Linear leaves surround this seed,|
itself enclosed in a red aril.
It is drought-tolerant and grows well in acidic soils and shady conditions. Although it is endangered, you can still purchase and grow a plant for your yard. A word of caution, however - the leaves and seeds are toxic!
- Yew bark contains a high concentration of taxol, a compound used to fight both breast and ovarian cancer.
- Scientists at F.S.U. developed the first method for synthesizing taxol in the laboratory, whereby saving the tree from potential over-harvesting.
- Yew wood is rather springy, and was historically used in the construction of bows.
- "Welcome to Floridata." Welcome to Floridata. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. http://www.floridata.com/.
- "Explore Plants." Native Plant Information Network. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. http://www.wildflower.org/explore/.
- Wunderlin, R. P., and B. F. Hansen. 2008. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants (http://www.plantatlas.usf.edu/). [S. M. Landry and K. N. Campbell (application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research.] Institute for Systematic Botany, University of South Florida, Tampa.
Posted by Laurie Sheldon