The Taxus comprises about eight species, natives of the Eastern States, Europe and Japan, one being indigenous to California while another is a native of Mexico.
Taxus baccata, the common English Yew, is indigenous to most of the countries of Europe and extends even to British India. It grows, under favorable conditions, to the height of fifty feet with a trunk five feet in diameter. It has many varieties, including Taxus baccata argentea (having leaves striped with silvery white), Taxus baccata aurea (having leaves broadly edged with yellow, this being a very desirable variety for planting in small grounds or for grouping among other Yews in larger grounds) and Taxus baccata fastigiata, the Irish Yew, or, as it is sometimes named, the Florence Court Yew, a species much used in formal gardens.
The Yew grows in any soil and in any situation not too much exposed to harsh winds, and while it loves a semi-shady situation on the bank of a stream, it does well under any ordinary garden conditions.
Propagate by seeds sown one-sixteenth of an inch deep in the open ground in Spring, or by cuttings inserted in September in sandy soil in a cool frame and shaded for a few weeks during hot sunshine. The variegated varieties are increased by grafting, in Winter, on the common species. They may also be propagated by layering in Summer.