Other uses of this or related species

While the Pacific yew's main significance is due to its production of the anti-cancer agent taxol, it does have other important uses and values. As was mentioned in the History section, the wood of the Pacific yew was renowned for its value in making excellent bows. This tradition is still carried on today, and the yew is used to craft some of the finest archery bows in the world. The wood of the yew, which is elastic but very durable, has also been used to make canoe paddles, tool handles, and fence posts. It is sometimes used in carving, cabinet-making, or for turned articles but has very little commercial significance.

The Pacific yew provides important food and cover for many wildlife species. The Pacific yew commonly forms a dense subcanopy which provides excellent hiding and thermal cover. In fact, yew forests are often considered critical moose winter habitat. While some researchers report that the yew is toxic to horses, sheep, rabbits and man, many wild ungulates, such as deer, elk and moose, depend on the tree as a food source during the cold winter months. The sweet fruit of the Pacific yew is readily eaten by many species of songbirds including the Townsend's solitaire, varied thrush, and hermit thrush. Pacific yew snags may also be used by foraging woodpeckers.

The Pacific yew is also an attractive ornamental which is frequently used as a hedge plant. According to Kruckeberg, a shrubby form of Pacific yew, often associated with serpentine soils, is generally considered the most desirable ornamental form.

Return to table of contents