Taxus cuspidata 'Capitata' / capitating Japanese yew

Taxus cuspidata 'Capitata' is a named coined by the U.S. nursery trade to classify a class of seedling-grown Japanese yews described as growing narrowly upright with fastigiate branching and a single trunk. Since no specific clone is responsible for the origin of these plants, 'Capitata' should not be recognized as a legitimate cultivar name. Given the variability of seedlings, no specific structure, color or growth rate can be guaranteed.

Equally curious is that American growers applied the same nomenclatural blunder to seedling-grown, spreading generic seedlings, calling them, Taxus cuspidata 'Expansa.'

This situation was first described in 1936 by E. Lowell Kammerer in Bulletin of the Morton Arboretum, 11:44. 'Capitata' translates into "capitating" or "head-forming" in the Latin language. It's unclear how this term applies to narrow upright plants.

Taxus cuspidata 'Capitata' field-grown in a commercial nursery in Minnesota.
Photo by Gertens Nursery, inc.


Darcee Vorndran

I live on Cape Cod and am having one heck of a time finding a capitata yew! Am willing to travel off-cape to bring one home, within reason. I'd appreciate any suggestions you might have on where I should try. I grew up with one in my childhood home in NY - now about 25-30' high, and my beloved Mother always decorated it with Christmas lights for my 12/23 birthday. So now I am hoping to bring this tradition alive once more, before I pass! Thank you in advance for your time.

Penny Brewer

I saw them last summer (2020) at Russell’s in Wayland MA. I will update this post if I see them again this spring (2021).

Thomas Franklin

Look up .
I tried to buy 7 of them.
But they don't deliver to Virginia.
I'm trying to find out how to get them shipped here.