About animals

Fortune's capitate yew


The capitate is a small, primitive family of conifers, from which, as modern studies show, in the Jurassic period, during the time of the dinosaurs, the yew family separated. Golovchatotiss at first glance actually looks very much like yew, but its needles are noticeably longer. The Finnish name - “grape spruce” - refers to “berries” resembling grapes. As they ripen, the fruits turn brown and begin to emit a sweet smell. Maturation lasts a debt, sometimes even up to 2-3 years.

Harrington's capitate grows in Japan, where it occurs infrequently. In Finland, it is rarely grown. Its resistance to winter can be enough only if during the most severe colds it will be completely covered with snow. This is exactly what happens in Mustila, where it has been growing on the Terrace for at least half a century. It remains quite undersized, and under the thick snow cover it suffers winters without any damage. In the fall of 2002, the bush found a younger neighbor.

Read more about Fortune's Capitate yew

Capitate yews are evergreen densely branched small trees or shrubs. The needles are located in a spiral and has a linear or spear-shaped shape. On the reverse side has white or light green stomatal stripes.

Fortune's capitate yew (Cephalotaxus fortunei) comes from southern China. It differs in smaller growth (shrub), the crown is widely oval, needles in horizontal rows, flat, up to 8 cm in length, leafy blades leathery, shiny, green above, with bright stripes below. Shade tolerant. In favorable conditions, grows up to 10 m in height.

These plants are one of the few conifers that feel just as good on chalky soils. They grow well in a cool, humid place, on heavy clay soils. Fortune's capitate yew is relatively resistant to low temperatures, USDA 6th zone.


These sheets are spirally arranged on the shoots, but twisted at the base to lie in two flat rows (with the exception of upright leading shoots), they are linear, 4-12 cm long and 3-4 mm wide, soft texture, with a blunt tip, this helps distinguish them from related kind Torreya which has spine-tipped leaves.

These species can be either monoecious or dioecious, when monoecious, male and female cones are often located on different branches. Male (pollen) cones are 5-8 mm long, grouped in a line along the bottom of the shoot. Female (seed) cones are single or grouped two to 15 together on short stems, a minute in the first, they ripen in about 18 months before a drupe-like structure with one large nut-like seed 1.5-4 cm long, surrounded by a fleshy coating, green to purple at full maturity. Natural resettlement is believed to be based on proteins that bury seeds for a winter food source, any seeds left uneaten can then sprout.

Poison yew and its relatives in a room format

The representation of indoor yews, unlike garden yews, is very modest. While in landscape design representatives of genuine yews (genus Taxus), in a room format, plants belonging to the genus are more often used Headache (Cephalotaxus) In catalogs and in everyday life, all plants continue to be called simply yews, often passing off some species as others. The true name of capitate yews is very rare. For indoor plants, it is fair to consider "golovachotiss" and "yew" synonyms, because they grow the same way, the difference is only in the decorative "details". The main difference between capitate is in the longer needles and grape-like berries. In care all yews are very similar to each other.

Without exception, all the yews, as well as the head yachts, have become famous for their durability and ability to maintain high decorativeness, not even for centuries, but for millennia. In room culture, yews are also one of the most spectacular centenarians. While cypresses and other conifers in the rooms contain mainly only young plants, yews in the form of bonsai can become family heirlooms. True, these plants will reveal their full potential only with the constant maintenance of ideal conditions for their maintenance.

Cephalopods and yews are evergreen trees or shrubs representing the family of the same name Yew (Taxaceae) and belonging to the most ancient plants on our planet. The height of the yews is very limited: in nature, plants do not exceed 20 m for yews and 10-15 m for capitate yews; in garden culture, the maximum height is 4-5 m. Indoor yews are completely dependent on formation and their sizes range from 15 cm to 1 m depending on the chosen style. These are slowly growing arboreal trees that do not so quickly take the desired shape and often grow almost imperceptibly. But this feature allows adults and mature yews to maintain their beauty for many years.

A distinctive feature of all yews - a wide, tattered crown, the beauty of which is fully disclosed only with age - can be considered characteristic of the headscapes. The bark exfoliates in longitudinal strips. Straight trunks and inclined sparse shoots of young yews gradually change to rising and thicker branches, forming a very dense pattern and a special crown texture. The needle-shaped leaves of the capitate differ from yew leaves primarily in length. They flaunt a darker color on the upper side of the needles and a lighter - lower one, they can grow up to 8 cm in length, very pleasant and soft to the touch, which is considered a big problem (yew leaves beckon constantly to touch, which due to toxicity often leads to unpleasant consequences ) A beautiful arrangement in a spiral or in rows with increased density gives the plant a special effect.

The most bizarre feature of the headache is the presence of spherical male cones collected in groups on last year's shoots, in which bone-shaped seeds develop. The headscapes are famous for their fancy vibrant fruits, which only decorate this plant. Berry-like fruits ripen from August to September, gradually change color, allow you to consider the bizarre structure with a fleshy membrane around the seeds. Yew berries have bright red, poisonous, ripen slowly.

Types of indoor yews and capitate

Among indoor yews, the absolute leader is the plant, most gardeners know as yew capitate (Cephalotaxus drupacea), and today it has been re-qualified as Harrington's headache (Cephalotaxus harringtonii) This is a beautiful woody one with gray, peeling off with spectacular strips of bark and thin shoots densely arranged in whorls, which, depending on the variety, can either wither or rise. The leaves of the plant are not so similar to the usual needles. They are needle-shaped, with a sharp tip, arranged in tight rows, able to reach 5 cm in length, leathery and dark.

It is much less common Fortune's headache (Cephalotaxus fortunei) - a broadly oval, compact shrub with a very long, up to 8 cm needles, located in horizontal rows and showing off with a double color - dark on top of the leaves and light - on the bottom.

Genuine yews are much less common and are represented by one of three types:

    spiky yew (Taxus cusp> Yew bonsai. © Ed van der Reek

Yew Care at Home

Yews in room culture are not in vain considered exclusive plants. They are constantly included in the lists of the most poisonous houseplants, but yews do not show their toxicity upon contact with the skin, but only when used internally and not handled carefully. Of course, these plants should not be planted for those who have small children or pets, but the yew is not at all as dangerous as the myths say.

Choosing a yew tree as one of the classic bonsai woods that are well known by their garden relatives, it is worth considering that stamina and undemanding bonsai are not inherited. Yews can be recommended to experienced gardeners, those who have the skills to form plants or at least basic knowledge about the art of bonsai. It is interesting to grow this culture yourself. It allows you to hone your skills and improve your skills. But in caring for yew in a room format, it is very important not only to monitor the condition of the plant, but also to be able to notice the slightest problems and respond quickly to them.

Yew lighting and placement

The main advantage of indoor yews is the ability to adapt perfectly to secluded and bright lighting. Adult yews are not afraid of either sunny areas or partial shade. True, lighting should be stable and yews need to be trained slowly to certain conditions, stretching the process and thereby minimizing stress. Shaded shade for yew is preferred if the plant suffers from heat in summer or winter. Too intense lighting in combination with hot temperatures lead to drying out of the needles and loss of color, even with additional measures for humidified air.

If possible, the lighting level for yews, which they are accustomed to in the summer, is best maintained in winter. It is easier to do this for yews that contain in secluded lighting or partial shade (just moving to a brighter place on the windowsill completely compensates for the seasonal reduction in light).

Temperature and ventilation for yew capitate

Despite its room status, yew even when growing bonsai retains its cold resistance and partially frost resistance, although experimenting with the temperature regime and allowing the plant to freeze is still not worth it. The optimal wintering regime is at a temperature of 13 to 15 degrees.

In the active period of growth, the plant copes well with any room temperatures, but if it is possible to avoid heat, then it is better to use it. Indeed, at high temperatures, the slightest mistakes will immediately affect the beauty of the crown.

Yews love fresh air and throughout the summer they are best kept outdoors or taken out onto the balcony. The rest of the time, where the yews are located, it is better to ventilate regularly. Plants are not afraid of drafts, but if a bonsai is grown only in a living room, then they need to be protected from streams of cold air.

Yew irrigation and humidity

Yews are one of the most difficult types of bonsai in terms of watering. These plants are so sensitive to moisture that they do not tolerate even constant average soil moisture. Before each watering, you need to check whether the soil in the middle of the pots has dried out. A complete drying of the soil yew tolerates better than other types of bonsai. For yew, you need to use room temperature water with soft characteristics.

It is actually necessary to increase the air humidity for yew only in bright light and at elevated temperatures, but the closer the air humidity indicators are to average, the better this bonsai will develop and look. In summer and winter, plants gratefully respond to daily spraying or the installation of humidifiers.

Harrington's capitate (Cephalotaxus harringtonii). © Jardín Botánico de la Universidad de Málaga

Top dressing and composition of fertilizers for indoor yew

For this type of indoor wood, it is preferable to follow a rather specific feeding schedule. These plants do not respond well to excess fertilizers, and top dressing with normal frequency causes rapid growth to the detriment of form and beauty. Fertilizers are applied only in spring and summer with a frequency of 1 time per month.

For any indoor yews, it is advisable to use special fertilizers for conifers or fertilizers for bonsai.

Yew trimming and shaping

The size, shape, style of indoor yews is controlled using both wire and shaping trimming. Yew wire is laid only on adult shoots, too young branches are easily injured and most often die off. It is possible to direct and restrain the growth of shoots in this type of bonsai only during the dormant period. Pinching the tops of the shoots is ineffective, it is replaced for yews with tweezed flower buds. If the bonsai blooms well, yew want to achieve abundant fruiting, then pinching is carried out after flowering in the usual way. Yew pruning can be carried out in the spring, at the beginning of active growth, and before wintering. Typically, the plant is formed according to the desired contour, focusing on size and cutting off all excess shoots. Yew is not afraid of pruning, it is the main tool for bonsai formation. The only rule of formation is to cut over whorls of needles, and not under them.

For yew trees, besides the usual pruning, you will have to take care of sanitary cleaning:

  • removal of damaged, dried, yellowed twigs,
  • removal of dry and unattractive needles (usually this procedure is carried out only in autumn or early spring),
  • cleaning the bark with a thick brush to remove accumulation of dust, dirt and plant debris (especially hard to clean the bark in branches and folds),
  • on the removal of plant debris from the top of the substrate or on decorative dumping.

Yew transplant and substrate

Slow yew growth allows transplanting only as needed. Plants, even at a young age, slowly master the earthen lump and also slowly build up the aboveground parts, therefore, usually transplantation is carried out with a frequency of 1 time in 3 or even 4 years.

Yew trees need very specific soil. They prefer not just calcareous, but chalky soils, although they can grow in any universal substrate in room culture. Bonsai can be grown in special soil. If you mix the soil yourself, then you can use a simple composition of equal parts of river sand, sheet soil and high-quality compost. Ready-made substrates for conifers can also be used.

Capacities for growing yews are selected in accordance with the form of plant growth. When growing bonsai, yews are grown in decorative bonsai, but you can place the trees in ordinary containers. The large weight and density of the crown require the selection of stable containers. For yew, pots with a depth greater than the diameter are preferred. Typically, the size of the pot is selected according to the diameter of the trunk and crown, since the size of the root system is easily controlled by regular cutting of part of the rhizome.

The transplant procedure for yews is somewhat specific. Even if a bonsai is not created from the plant, it is still recommended to remove a third of the roots each time to transplant to reduce their volume. In this case, pruning is carried out around the perimeter, trying not to destroy the earthen lump and save the main soil around the base of the root system.

Diseases and pests, often affecting yew trees

Among pests on indoor yews there are scale insects, leafworms, galls, affecting the plant's buds. It is better to deal with all types of insect pests right away by processing insecticides.

Inaccurate watering and waterlogging can cause the spread of both root and stem rot. Timely drying of an earthen coma and changing the schedule of irrigation will help to cope with the initial stages of their spread.

Common problems in yew growing:

  • drying of leaves in dry air and heat,
  • yellowing of the crown when irrigated with cold water or in dry air.

Reproduction of indoor yews

The methods for growing yews in the form of bonsai are no different from the options for propagation of this plant in garden culture. Yews can be obtained from seeds or rooting layering.But the most popular method for the formation of bonsai is the cuttings, allowing the correct choice of branches for rooting to initially set the shape of the plant. For this plant, the grafting method is also sometimes used (in the side sections of more accessible conifers, cutting the stock after the graft has taken root). To form a bonsai and transfer to indoor culture, you can use small yew seedlings that are sold as garden plants.

Cuttings for rooting in the yew should be carefully selected, because the nature of the plant growth will depend on which shoots are selected. For spreading forms and mundane silhouettes, cuttings take only their side branches. And if you want to get a pyramidal, cone-shaped or elongated shape - root the top, cutting off the stem from the central shoot. Cuttings of yew are cut in early autumn, in the middle or end of September, immediately treated with a solution of a growth accelerator and planted obliquely in a fertile substrate. Rooting lasts a very long time. During the winter, cuttings are kept in a greenhouse or cool rooms, rooting usually occurs at the end of winter or in spring.

Yew seeds require long-term stratification. It is advisable to place them in the cold for 10-12 months immediately after collection, carefully removing the fleshy scales from the seeds and drying them in a warm, ventilated room. After stratification, soaking in a solution of growth stimulants is carried out. Seeds are not sown too deep in small individual containers. While maintaining a light, constant soil moisture, yew seeds germinate 7-8 months after sowing. Young plants are sensitive to root injuries, direct sunlight, drying out of the soil, and too much watering.

Thanks to a fairly thick crown, the yew tree can easily bend and root the lower shoots. For rooting layering choose flexible and as young as possible branches. The site to be laid in the soil is exposed from needles and a longitudinal incision is made on the branch. The technique of rooting layering is similar to any garden shrub: a twig is fixed in the soil and sprinkled on top with a substrate, maintaining constant moisture. You can cut off layering from the main bush only when young twigs begin to develop at the top. The yews obtained by this method need careful care, protection from temperature extremes and direct sunlight.

Fortunei (G. Fortune)

This tree forms a crown in the shape of a low umbrella. It tolerates constant shading. Soft leaves up to 10 cm long, curved at the ends. New spring growth suffers from late spring frosts. The height and diameter of the plant is 1 x 2 m (10 years). The maximum height is 10 m.

This tree forms a crown in the shape of a low umbrella

Growing conditions

The natural habitat of the yew of capitate Fortune is the mountains of Central and Southern China, where the plant rises to a height of 3000 m above sea level, being the lower tier of broad-leaved forest. But the decorative forms of this plant are now distributed around the world in open ground - under favorable climatic conditions, as well as indoor and greenhouse plants. This is a fairly frost-resistant plant, can tolerate frosts to -15 C, but not for long. It grows well in shady and humid places. Since 1848, breeding began in Europe, and since 1852 it was bred in the Nikitsky Botanical Garden, from where it spread along the Black Sea coast of the Caucasus. In the humid subtropics of the Sochi Black Sea region bears fruit.


Light and soft wood does not allow its use for industrial purposes, but the seeds of the yew capitate are used as raw materials for the production of varnish.

Yew capitate is widely used in landscape planning as an independent plant and in compositions with other more massive plants, because shade tolerant.

Prostrate Spreader

The variety is very similar to the original form, but much lower and more spreading. The diameter of the crown is always greater than the height. The height and diameter of the plant is 1x5 m (30 years). This is a good groundcover for shady, damp areas. The bark is reddish-brown, exfoliating.

The diameter of the crown is always greater than the height

C. harringtonia (G. Harrington)

The leaves are dark, shiny, 5 cm long, from below with two distinct parallel silver stripes, a bushy plant with peeling brown bark. The height and diameter of the crown is 1x1 m (10 years). Maximum height - 6 m.

The leaves are dark, shiny.