Taxus cuspidata is an evergreen, Gymnosperm, dense shrub to 13 x 13 m, twigs reddish, bark reddish brown, flaky. Those grown from seed have a single trunk with sparse foliage, young trees are quite shade tolerant (Del Tredici 2010)
Leaves spiraled, but appearing ranked, ascending to form a ‘V’ shaped profile on twig, flattish, needle-like, 0.2-0.3 cm wide, midrib prominent above, abruptly pointed tip sharp; dark green above, paler with 2 tan bands below, evergreen, scales of winter buds keeled (Rehder 1986).
Flowers: No flowers. Male and female cones on different plants (dioecious).
Fruit: No true fruit. Female cone consists of seed covered by a fruit-like, bright red, translucent, fleshy aril. Aril eaten by birds that disperse seeds. The aril is the only part of Taxus that is not toxic (Del Tredici 2010).
Wetland status: NL.
Frequency in NYC: Infrequent.
Habitat: Escapes from cultivation. Old house sites, in yard waste.
Notes: Sometimes dispersed by birds into woodlands. Foliage eaten by deer (Martin et al. 1951). 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.