Taxus baccata is a shrub to 20 x 6 m, evergreen Gymnosperm, twigs greenish, bark reddish brown flaky; scales of winter buds blunt, not keeled, persistent at base of new twigs.
Leaves spiraled but appearing ranked when growing in shade and on horizontal branches, flattish, needle-like, dark green above, paler with 2 tan bands below, tip gradually tapered to point; evergreen (Rehder 1986).
Flowers: No true flowers, sexes on separate plants (dioecious); male cones small, round yellowish.
Fruit: No true fruit, females bearing seeds surrounded by red-fleshy aril. Eaten by birds.
Wetland status: NL.
Frequency in NYC: Very infrequent.
Habitat: Escapes from cultivation. Old house sites, yard waste. Shade tolerant.
Notes: Needles, bark and seeds contain taxine, a very toxic alkaloid (Kingsbury 1964). The red pulp of the fruit-like aril surrounding seed is not toxic. Foliage eaten by deer.