Cephalotaxus harringtonii 'Mary Fleming'

Cephalotaxus harringtonia 'Mary Fleming' is a spreading bush-form of Japanese Plum-yew with rich, dark green recurved needles. Typical rate of growth in most areas is 4 to 6 inches (10 - 15 cm) per year resulting in a mounding shrub 4 to 6 feet (1.2 - 1.8 m) tall and wide after 10 years in the landscape. Like many other Plum-yew cultivars, this is an excellent choice for planting in the understory of a woodland garden.

Yucca Do Nursery of Giddings, Texas is credited with introduction of this cultivar in the early 1980s. It actually has a very interested provenance. C. harrringtonia 'Mary Fleming' was selected from a batch of seedlings grown in New York state by Mary Fleming, mother of Texas nurseryman, Will Fleming. Will gave the seedlings to John Fairey of Peckerwood Gardens, Hempstead, Texas for planting and evaluation. Years later, John noted that one of the seedlings was quite distinctive with under-curled needles. He and John Schoenfeld, owner of Yucca Do, decided that it was worthy of propagation, so it went into production at Yucca-do and was named for the plant's originator.

Note that the Dawes arboretum lists 'Yucca Do Curls' as a synonym for this cultivar. Yucca Do denies ever using this as a provisional name. Most likely the confusion resulted from a lost plant tag. Despite it's unique look, 'Mary Fleming' is a very hard plant to locate in the nursery trade.

Cephalotaxus harringtonia 'Mary Fleming' at Cox Arboretum, Canton, Georgia.
Photo by Tom Cox

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