Cephalotaxus, commonly called plum yew or cowtail pine, is a genus of conifers comprising 11 species, treated in either the Cephalotaxaceae, or in the Taxaceae when that family is considered in a broad sense. The genus is endemic to eastern Asia, though fossil evidence shows it had a wider Northern Hemisphere distribution in the past. The species are evergreen shrubs and small trees reaching 1.0–10 m (rarely to 20 m) tall.
The leaves are spirally arranged on the shoots, but twisted at the base to lie in two flat ranks (except on erect leading shoots); they are linear, 4–12 cm long and 3–4 mm broad, soft in texture, with a blunt tip; this helps distinguish them from the related genus Torreya, which has spine-tipped leaves.
The species can be either monoecious or dioecious; when monoecious, the male and female cones are often on different branches. The male (pollen) cones are 5–8 mm long, grouped in lines along the underside of a shoot. The female (seed) cones are single or grouped two to 15 together on short stems; minute at first, they mature in about 18 months to a drupe-like structure with the single large nut-like seed 1.5–4 cm long surrounded by a fleshy covering, green to purple at full maturity. Natural dispersal is thought to be aided by squirrels which bury the seeds for a winter food source; any seeds left uneaten are then able to germinate.
|Image||Scientific name||Common Name||Distribution|
|Cephalotaxus fortunei||Chinese plum-yew||northern Burma and China|
|Cephalotaxus griffithii||Griffith's plum yew||northern India, northern Myanmar and the western Sichuan Province in China.|
|Cephalotaxus hainanensis||Hainan plum-yew||Hainan in southern China|
|Cephalotaxus harringtonii||Korean plum yew, Japanese plum-yew, Harrington's cephalotaxus, or cowtail pine||from Kyūshū in the south to Hokkaidō, Japan|
|Cephalotaxus koreana||Korean plum yew||Korea, Japan and northeast China|
|Cephalotaxus lanceolata||Gongshan Plum Yew||northern Burma and southern China|
|Cephalotaxus latifolia||Broad-leaved Plum Yew||southern China|
|Cephalotaxus mannii||Mann's Yew Plum||southern China, northeast India, Laos, northern Thailand, northern Myanmar and northern Vietnam.|
|Cephalotaxus oliveri||Oliver's Plum Yew||China and possibly to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and eastern India.|
|Cephalotaxus sinensis||Chinese Plum Yew||central and southern China.|
|Cephalotaxus wilsoniana||Taiwan plum yew, Taiwan cow's-tail pine, and Wilson plum yew||Taiwan|