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Charles L. Bolsinger and Annabelle E. Jaramillo
Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia), also called western yew, is a coniferous tree associated with several conifer and hardwood tree species on a variety of sites. Pacific yew tolerates shade, and in undisturbed stands is usually found as an understory tree. Growth of such trees is slow, but where the overstory has been removed or thinned, diameter growth on undamaged yew trees may increase considerably. Pacific yew rarely exceeds 60 cm (24 in) in d.b.h., and 15 m (49 ft) in height. The largest on record is 142 cm (56 in) in d.b.h., and 18 m (60 ft) in height (28). The wood is hard, heavy, and resistant to decay. Although not of great interest to the forest products industry, it has many special uses. The bark of Pacific yew contains a drug, taxol, that is being used in cancer research, so demand for yew bark by the National Cancer Institute has increased dramatically in recent years (9).