Nutt. ex Chapm.
Taxus floridana (Florida Yew) is a species of yew, found only in a small area of under 10 km² on the eastern side of the Apalachicola River in northern Florida at altitudes of 15–30 m. It is listed as an endangered species.
It is an evergreen coniferous shrub or small tree growing to 6 m (rarely 10 m) tall, with a trunk up to 38 cm diameter. The bark is thin, scaly purple-brown, and the branches are spreading. The shoots are green at first, becoming brown after three or four years. The leaves are thin, flat, slightly falcate (sickle-shaped), 1–2.9 cm long and 1–2 mm broad, with a bluntly acute apex; they are arranged spirally on the shoots but twisted at the base to appear in two horizontal ranks on all except for erect lead shoots. It is dioecious, with the male and female cones on separate plants; the seed cone is highly modified, berry-like, with a single scale developing into a soft, juicy red aril 1 cm diameter, containing a single dark brown seed 5–6 mm long. The pollen cones are globose, 4 mm diameter, produced on the undersides of the shoots in early spring.
It occurs in the same region as the even rarer Torreya taxifolia, and is similar to it in general appearance, but can be told by the shorter, blunt-tipped (not spine-tipped) leaves and the less strong smell of the crushed leaves. Distinction from other yew species is more difficult, and like most yews it has sometimes been treated as a subspecies of Taxus baccata, as T. baccata subsp. floridana (Nutt. ex Chapm.) Pilger.
Cultivation and protection
The Florida Yew requires particular conditions for its slow growth. It is suited to a slight acidic soil and partial shade, it is classed as USDA Zone 8 in its resistance to cold. It can be grown from cuttings or seeds. It is protected in reserves at the Torreya State Park and at the Nature Conservancy's Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve; it has legal protection under the United States and Florida Endangered Species laws.
- "Taxus floridana". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2007. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 2007. Retrieved 18 November 2007.
- Flora of North America: Taxus floridana
- Rushforth, K. (1987). Conifers. Helm ISBN 0-7470-2801-X.
- Farjon, A. (1998). World Checklist and Bibliography of Conifers. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew ISBN 1-900347-54-7.