Emerald Spreader Japanese Yew

Native to eastern Asia, the Emerald Spreader Japanese Yew (taxus cuspidata ‘monloo’) is a slow growing, drought tolerant plant that is attractive to bees, butterflies, and birds. It is virtually maintenance free.Japanese yews are considered to be a tree or large bush and can reach upwards of 40 feet in height and 20 feet in width. This particular variety, “Monloo”, spotlighted here is a spreader and will only reach 2-3 feet.The entire yew bush is poisonous, except for the berries, therefore it is advisable to keep domestic animals and small children away from the plant. The oil (“Taxol”) derived from yew bushes is used for treating breast and ovarian cancer and the flesh of the berries can be used as a laxative and diuretic.

“Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly”….Yews have a been a part of Christmas decorating in Britain and in parts of Europe since the early 1800’s. Sprigs are cut from yews to be used as boughs of holly and whole yews (taller varieties) serve as the Christmas tree. In many countries, the yew was believed to keep witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness away and thus boughs were found hanging over their doors and windows.

Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition during the 16th century when devout Christians brought the yews into their homes and decorated them. The trees were symbolic of the “Tree of Good and Evil” in the Garden of Eden and the food that decorated the trees represented knowledge (red) and innocence (white). It is believed that Martin Luther first added lit candles to the trees. The story is told that one evening as he was walking home from a sermon, he was in awe of the twinkling stars and wanted to recapture the moment by wiring lit candles to the branches of the tree.

Queen Victoria and her German Prince Albert are usually credited with introducing the Christmas tree to England, however, the the tree appeared 40 years earlier by Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, who had a yew tree hung with sweets and toys and lit with small candles for a children’s party at Windsor on Christmas Day in the year 1800.

Thus the tradition started and the Christmas tree remains a part of one of the greatest celebrations of mankind.

Category: Shrub, Conifer

Foliage: Evergreen

Height: 2-3 feet (60-90 cm)

Spacing: 8-10 feet

Hardiness: USDA Zone 4-7

Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

Bloom Time: Red berries in winter

Danger: All parts of the bush are poisonous except for the red berries

Propagation: By grafting

About Jen

Jen is owner, author, and creative mind behind Bakerette. Jen eats a vegan diet and recently converted Bakerette to a plant-based website that offers a smattering of healthful recipes! Jen is author of the cookbook Festive Feasts: Meals and Memories from Halloween to Christmas, which can be purchased online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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