Taxus cuspidata 'Amersfoort'

Taxus cuspidata 'Amersfoort' is an attractive, slow-growing shrub-form of Japanese yew with stiff, outward-spreading branches and dark-green, short, oval, flattened needles that are unusual for this species. After 10 years of growth, a mature specimen will measure 36 inches (90 cm) tall and 24 inches (60 cm) wide, an annual growth rate of around 3 inches (7.5 cm).

This cultivar originated in France in the 1930s and brought to the nursery of D.B.B. van den Hoorn, in Boskoop, The Netherlands, who later planted it on the grounds of Amersfoort Psychiatric Hospital, The Netherlands, hence the cultivar name. The plant was so unusual and distinctive that it defied identification. Initial attempts were Podocarpus, later Taxus baccata. A recently reverted specimen in The Netherlands, made it quite obvious that this cultivar belongs in T. cuspidata.

'Amersfoort' makes for a fine addition to the conifer collector's garden.

Taxus cuspidata 'Amersfoort' in the Harper Collection of Dwarf & Rare Conifers, Hidden Lake Gardens, Tipton, Michigan; photo from August 2005.
Photo by Dax Herbst
Taxus cuspidata 'Amersfoort — a closeup of foliage detail.
Photo by Bill Barger
Taxus cuspidata 'Amersfoort — a closeup of foliage detail.
Photo by Tom Porlick

Comments

Dennis Groh

Hi David. I have a little nomenclature challenge for you if you are up for it?

In recent e-mail correspondence with Gary Whittenbaugh (whose garden is in northern Iowa) I got the following message.

<em>Taxua baccata</em> 'Amersfoort' Now here is a conifer whose foliage doesn’t even look like conifer foliage and I am not sure what it resembles. It is sold as an English yew and <em>baccata </em>is what you will find on the tag. English yew are not hardy in my area. At least I killed many before I decided they won’t work here. So when we first saw this plant, I told people it likely wasn’t hardy in Iowa. Most all listened to me except my brother Tom, who never listens to me, and he bought one. I planted it and it is doing very nicely. Bob Fincham, on one of his visits to our garden, told me the reason it is growing here, when all the others I tried died. He said it is a <em>cuspidata</em> not a <em>baccata</em> . An ‘Amersfoort’ had a reversion and THE EXPERTS decided it was a <em>cuspidate. </em>Lesson: if something in your garden is behaving strangely it may not be what you thought.

There is a similar comment in the new Encyclopedia of Conifers page 1311. Any way we can get to the bottom of this nomenclature issue? Thanks. Dennis Groh.

David Olszyk

There is no question that 'Amersfoort' is a selection of Taxus cuspidata. I am aware of the field study done with recurrent growth. Thanks, Dennis.