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Taxus wallichiana

Himalayan yew

About the plant

Once widely distributed across Southeast Asia Taxus wallichiana has been overharvested for the pharmaceutical companies.

  • Endangered

    The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species uses a set of criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of the world’s species. The ongoing mission is to evaluate every plant species in the world.

    IUCN Red List Status:

    Not yet evaluated
    Data deficient
    Least concern
    Near threatened
    Vulnerable
    Endangered
    Critically endangered
    Extinct in the wild
    Extinct
  • Banked in the MSB
    Seeds from this plant have been banked in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, at Wakehurst in Sussex
  • Material
    Plant provides materials for manufacturing either fibre or timber
  • Medicine
    Plant or components of this plant are used in medicine
  • Click on icon to reveal more

Facts

  • Strong and durable wood
  • Slow-growing
  • Powerful medicinal properties
  • Red dye used for religious ceremonies

Medicinal properties

In traditional medicine Himalayan yew is used to treat everything from fevers and coughs to epilepsy and tuberculosis.

It’s also valuable to the modern medicine trade as it contains chemical compounds used to make the anti-cancer drug paclitaxel. In some areas populations have decreased by up to 90% in major parts of its range.


Poison

All species of yew are highly poisonous to mammals including humans.

Birds and animals do eat the bright red seed covering, known as an aril, which tastes sweet and is harmless as long as the poisonous seed is left.

Slow to regenerate naturally, its seeds take 18 months to germinate
  • Endangered

    The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species uses a set of criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of the world’s species. The ongoing mission is to evaluate every plant species in the world.

    IUCN Red List Status:

    Not yet evaluated
    Data deficient
    Least concern
    Near threatened
    Vulnerable
    Endangered
    Critically endangered
    Extinct in the wild
    Extinct
  • Banked in the MSB
    Seeds from this plant have been banked in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, at Wakehurst in Sussex
  • Material
    Plant provides materials for manufacturing either fibre or timber
  • Medicine
    Plant or components of this plant are used in medicine
  • Click on icon to reveal more