Pearl Snaps

Stories of a cowgirl living life by her own lights

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Weedy Wednesday: Yew


Common name:Yew, Taxus
Scientific name:Taxus species

Life Cycle: Perennial
Origin: Many countries
Poisonous: Yes, extremely

Taxus species, frequently called “yew” are used as ornamentals in much of the eastern United States and Canada. Generally, these evergreen plants are found in highly managed landscapes.Taxus plants thrive under many conditions, which make them a popular choice among gardeners and landscapers. Small and large farm owners might plant them without realizing their toxicity to horses and other livestock.

Taxus leaves, bark, wood, and seeds are poisonous to livestock, especially horses. Poisoning might occur from animals eating plants or pruned plant parts left on the ground. When large amounts are consumed, horses can succumb to death within a short time and without additional clinical signs. Thus, animals are often found close to plants they have eaten, sometimes with plant parts in their mouth. In less severe cases, typical clinical signs include trembling, labored breathing, and collapse.

Remove taxus plants from horse farms to avoid the possibility of horses eating them. Dig the plant and remove it from the farmstead.

Consult your local Cooperative Extension Service personnel for specific identification and control in your area.

William W. Witt, PhD, a researcher in the department of Plant and Soil Science at the University of Kentucky, provided this information.


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