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Cephalotaxus Genus (Plum Yew)

10 Species with 7 Trinomials

Cephalotaxus, commonly called Plum Yew or Cowtail Pine, is a genus of conifers comprising 11 species, treated in either the Cephalotaxaceae, or in the Taxaceae when that family is considered in a broad sense. The genus is endemic to eastern Asia, though fossil evidence shows it had a wider Northern Hemisphere distribution in the past. The species are evergreen shrubs and small trees reaching 3 to 30 feet (1 – 10 m) tall, rarely to 60 feet (20 m).

The leaves are spirally arranged on the shoots, but twisted at the base to lie in two flat ranks (except on erect leading shoots); they are linear, 1.5 to 5 inches (4 – 12 cm) long and 0.12 to 0.16 inch (3 – 4 mm) broad, soft in texture, with a blunt tip; this helps distinguish them from the related genus Torreya, which has spine-tipped leaves.

The species can be either monoecious or dioecious; when monoecious, the male and female cones are often on different branches. The male (pollen) cones are 0.2 to 0.32 inch (5 – 8 mm) long and grouped in lines along the underside of a shoot. The female (seed) cones are single or grouped 2 to15 together on short stems; minute at first, they mature in about 18 months to a drupe-like structure with the single large nut-like seed 0.6 to 1.6 inches (1.5 – 4 cm) long surrounded by a fleshy covering, green to purple at full maturity. Natural dispersal is thought to be aided by squirrels which bury the seeds for a winter food source; any seeds left uneaten are then able to germinate.

Attributed from: Wikipedia