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Any of about eight species of ornamental evergreens in the genus Taxus, family Taxaceae (the yew family), distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Two species are always shrubby, but the others may reach heights of 77 ft (25 m). The plants have many branches, covered with needlelike leaves. Yew wood is hard, fine-grained, and heavy, with white or creamy sapwood and amber to brown heartwood. Once popular for cabinetwork, implements, and archery bows, it is used more today for articles either carved or turned on a lathe. Other trees called yew but not in this family are the plum-yew (family Cephalotaxaceae) and Prince Albert yew (family Podocarpaceae).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on yew, visit Britannica.com.