Taxus brevifolia - Nutt.
Pacific Yew
Other English Common Names: Western Yew
Other Common Names: Pacific yew
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Taxus brevifolia Nutt. (TSN 194884)
French Common Names: if de l'Ouest
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.149952
Element Code: PGTXA01010
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Conifers and relatives
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Coniferophyta Pinopsida Taxales Taxaceae Taxus
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Taxus brevifolia
Taxonomic Comments: A distinct species.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 30Aug2016
Global Status Last Changed: 30Aug2016
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Taxus brevifolia occurs in northwestern North America, from northwest California north to southernmost southeast Alaska and east to Montana. It is not uncommon within its main range of distribution, with distribution patterns ranging from scattered to dense patches. Thousands of occurrences are estimated to exist. However, this species is also slow-growing, does not reproduce rapidly, and has a somewhat narrow ecological range. Although it is somewhat resistant to minor disturbances, with harvest it can fairly easily be eliminated from areas. Therefore, logging activity, occurring throughout much of its range, is the most significant current threat to this species. In the past, there was concern that it could be threatened by harvest of its bark for extraction of the anticarcinogen taxol. However, appropriate substitute species and methods for obtaining this drug have been identified, so harvest for this purpose is does not appear to be a significant threat at this time.
Nation: United States
National Status: N4
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5 (04Feb2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alaska (S2), California (SNR), Idaho (SNR), Montana (S4), Nevada (SNR), Oregon (S4), Washington (SNR)
Canada Alberta (S1), British Columbia (S5)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Limited to the Pacific Northwest of North America, ranging from northwest California north to southernmost southeast Alaska and east to Montana (Vance et al. 2001).

Area of Occupancy:  
Area of Occupancy Comments: Ecological range within occupied areas somewhat narrow (J. Arnett pers. comm. 2008).

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Widespread in appropriate habitat.

Population Size Comments: Not uncommon within main range of distribution. Patterns of distribution vary from scattered to dense patches throughout its wide range (Vance et al. 2001).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Overall distribution and abundance threatened by logging. Possible harvest of the plant for the anticarcinogen taxol (contained in its bark) was a concern in the past; however, harvest pressure has eased considerably, because ways of synthesizing taxol from the leaves of Eurasian yew trees, mainly Taxus baccata and T. yunnanensis, have been developed. Most taxol supplied today is synthesized this way (Taxolog, Inc. 2001), and collection of wild T. brevifolia for taxol extraction is not believed to pose a significant threat to the species at this time.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: Species abundance declining in some areas due to habitat destruction by logging activities. Harvesting of bark for medicinal purposes and timber harvest practices resulted in loss/reductions of populations in the past (Vance et al. 2001), but is not believed to pose a significant threat currently.

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Fairly resistant to minor disturbances. However, it does not reproduce rapidly and with harvest it can fairly easily be eliminated from areas (J. Arnett pers. comm. 2008).

Environmental Specificity Comments: The ecological range of this species is somewhat narrow (J. Arnett, pers. comm. 2008).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Limited to the Pacific Northwest of North America, ranging from northwest California north to southernmost southeast Alaska and east to Montana (Vance et al. 2001).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, CA, ID, MT, NV, OR, WA
Canada AB, BC

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AK Ketchikan Gateway (02130), Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan (CA) (02201)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
19 Southeast Mainland (19010101)+, Ketchikan (19010102)+, Prince of Wales (19010103)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A small, slow-growing, evergreen tree.
Ecology Comments: Extremely shade tolerant. Usually found in the understory of dense coniferous forests, where growth rates are extremely slow. It apparently requires shade for establishment, but older trees are able to adapt to overstory removal (Crawford, 1983). Moisture requirements are fairly high and, in drier areas, it is limited to streamsides, seepsides, and shady, north-facing slope bottoms. (Bolsinger and Jaramillo 1990). Common associates in more mesic situations (where most of the trees are found) include Pseudotsuga menziesii, Berberis nervosa, Polystichum munitum, and Acer circinatum (Bolsinger and Jaramillo 1990). Tolerates a wide range of temperature conditions. Elevations range from sea level to 2440 m at the southern end of its range, in the Sierra Nevada (Bolsinger and Jaramillo 1990)
Habitat Comments: An understory tree of Pacific Northwest forests, found in light to deep shade. Somewhat moist forests, especially along streams and on slopes (Hitchcock, et al. 1955). In poorly drained mixed conifer forests at the northern extent of its range.
Economic Attributes
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Commercial Importance: Minor cash crop
Economic Uses: MEDICINE/DRUG, Pharmaceutical, Folk medicine, FIBER, Building materials/timber
Production Method: Cultivated, Wild-harvested
Economic Comments: Currently there is only a very modest economic incentive to harvest bark for medicinal purposes. Harvest pressure has eased with the development of new ways to manufacture taxol. Rarely cultivated for horticultural uses as it is suseptible to root weevil in cultivation and similar plants are widley available. The wood is very rot resistant and has been used for fenseposts, boat decking, canoe paddles, and many other tools and utinsils. (Bolsinger and Jaramillo 1990).
Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 28Mar2002
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: WAHP, rev. Maybury, K., rev. K. Gravuer (2008)
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 02Jan2007
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): MAYBURY, K.

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Bolsinger, C.L. and A.E. Jaramillo. 1990. Pacific yew. Unnumbered chapter in Burns, R.M. and B.H. Honkala, technical coordinators. Silvics of North America: Volume I, conifers. U.S.D.A. Handbook 654. U.S. Forest Service, Washington, D.C. 877 pp.

  • Crawford, R.C. 1983. Pacific yew community ecology in north-central Idaho with implications to forest land management. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Idaho, Moscow.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 1993a. Flora of North America north of Mexico. Vol. 2. Pteridophytes and gymnosperms. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xvi + 475 pp.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Little, E.L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agriculture Handbook No. 541. U.S. Forest Service, Washington, D.C. 375 pp.

  • Taxolog, Inc. 2001. The taxol story. Available at: http://www.taxolog.com/taxol.html. Accessed June 19, 2002.

  • Vance, N.C., M. Borsting, D. Pilz, and J. Freed. 2001. Special forest products: Species information guide for the Pacific Northwest. General Technical Report PNW-GTR-513. UDSA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, Oregon.

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