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


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.

Taxua baccata '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 baccata 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 cuspidata not a baccata . An ‘Amersfoort’ had a reversion and THE EXPERTS decided it was a cuspidate. 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.

[Deleted User]

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.

Randall Henry

Does any one have a reference to the field study that showed that Amersfoort was T. cuspidata? Right now, all I know is that an unknown person in the Netherlands determined a reverted specimen was Taxus cuspidata for unknown reasons. Could you give me a reference or link so I can talk about this scientifically?

Peter Strobili

Hi Randall, that observation was made several years ago by a consortium of Dutch nurseryman / conifer enthusiasts. They included Edwin Smits, Henk van Kempen, Wiel Linssen, and the Schrauwen family. They made this conclusion based on observations of reverted plants. Apparently, in its natural form, T. baccata and T. cuspidata are quite different in appearance when compared to each other.

Bill Barger

That is a great question. For a long time it was considered to be a Taxus baccata. About 13 years ago the British and Dutch Conifer Societies found an older specimen that had reversions on it. The reversions we positively identified as Taxus cuspidata. Additionally the selection is more cold hardy than typical Taxus baccata which is USDA Zone 6. There have been several additional recorded confirmations that the selection is indeed Taxus cuspidata. I am not aware of any "official" studies done to confirm either way though.

Peter Strobili

was there something wrong with the answer I posted yesterday? I know it was in the right place. Randall will never get notified of your reply because it's a new thread.