Taxus x media: which cultivar produces berries?


I’m considering either Densiformis or Wardii. Do you know which of these produces berries? I’ve seen conflicting information on Conifer Society of North America, Morton Arboretum, Missouri Botanical Garden, etc… so first hand experience would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


Taxus x media is a hybrid designation for a large number of cultivars of crosses of English yew (Taxus baccata) and Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata), of which ‘Densiformis’ and ‘Wardii ‘are two.  Although I don’t have first hand experience, I have taken as my authority Michael Dirr’s Manual of Woody Landscape Plants. 

These hybrid evergreens are dioecious (separate male and female plants). The females produce what is not precisely a berry but instead an aril – a fleshy red berry-like fruit that covers a hard, brown seed.  Almost all parts of the yew, including the leaves and the seed, are toxic to humans.

The Missouri Botanical Garden describes ‘Densiformis’ as a female cultivar, (or female clone as Dirr describes it) which means that when you buy one of these cultivars, you are buying a female plant.  ‘Wardii’ is not described this way, so there may be both male and female plants offered for sale.  Another popular cultivar, ‘Hicksii’, is described as being available in both male and female types.   It would be a good idea to consult with a knowledgeable nursery staff member when you are ready to purchase your yew.  The variety you ultimately acquire may depend to a large extent upon availability.