All Sources -
Updated Media sources (1) About content Print Topic Share Topic
views updated

Taxaceae A family of mostly dioecious conifers with the ovules solitary or in pairs and not borne in cones, but surrounded when ripe by a fleshy sheath or aril, which is often coloured and resembles a berry. This is always open at the tip, exposing the pollination pore, or micropyle, of the ovule. The male flowers are borne in tiny globular cones; the pollen grains are unwinged; and no resin cells or canals occur in the wood. There are 6 genera and 18 species, including Taxus (yew), in the northern temperate zone and in New Caledonia.

views updated

Taxus (yew; family Taxaceae) A genus of conifers with erect, solitary ovules surrounded by fleshy cup-like red arils with a sweet taste. The whole plants are highly poisonous (containing the alkaloid taxine) except for the red arils of the seeds. T. baccata is native in western Europe and is notable for its longevity; some specimens planted in churchyards in Britain and in France are believed to be about 1000 years old. It is the only genus of the family in Europe. There are 7 species, occurring mainly in the northern temperate zone but also in Mexican and Malesian mountains.