The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

American Yew

Scientific Names

American Yew

  • Taxus canadensis Marsh.
  • Yew family

Common Name

  • American Yew

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Parts Usually Used

Leaves (needles)
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Straggling evergreen shrub, rarely over 7 feet. Twigs smooth, green; reddish brown on older branches. Needles 2-ranked, 3/8-1 inch long, narrowing into abrupt fine points; green on both sides, but with light green bands below; needles often develop a reddish tint in winter. Female plants produce juicy, cuplike red arils (pulp) surrounding 1/2 inch fruits. Seeds stony.
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Where Found

Rich woods. Newfoundland to West Virginia; northeastern Kentucky to Iowa.
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Compounds in this shrub have been found to be effective in the treatment of breast cancer.
Native Americans used minute amounts of toxic leaf tea internally and externally, for rheumatism, bowel ailments, fevers, colds, scurvy, to expel afterbirth, dispel clots, diuretic; twigs used as fumigant in steam baths for rheumatism. Leaves (needles) said to be antirheumatic and hypotensive. Yew sap was used by Celts to produce poison arrows. A component of the plant is under investigation for anticancer activity. The long bow was made of the wood of the yew.
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All plant parts (except perhaps the red aril) of this and other yews contain the toxic alkaloid taxine and are considered poisonous. Ingesting as few as 50 leaves (needles) has resulted in fatalities. Berries are considered poisonous to man and beast.
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Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

Buy It! Indian Uses of Native Plants, by Edith Van Allen Murphey, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1958, print 1990

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Herbal Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, Cornell Plantations, Matthaei Botanical Gardens of the University of Michigan, University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley., Pantheon Books, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 1994, first edition

Buy It! How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts, by Frances Densmore, Dover Publications, Inc., 180 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014, first printed by the United States Government Printing Office, Washington, in 1928, this Dover edition 1974

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! The Magic of Herbs in Daily Living, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Co. (1988).

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