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Taxus cuspidata

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
PLANTAE TRACHEOPHYTA PINOPSIDA PINALES TAXACEAE

Scientific Name: Taxus cuspidata
Species Authority: Siebold & Zucc.
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name(s):
English Japanese Yew
Synonym(s):
Taxus baccata L. subspecies cuspidata (Siebold & Zucc.) Pilg.
Taxus baccata L. variety microcarpa Trautv.
Taxus cuspidata Siebold & Zucc. variety latifolia (Pilg.) Nakai
Taxus cuspidata Siebold & Zucc. variety microcarpa (Trautv.) S.Y.Hu
Taxonomic Notes: Two varieties are recognized: the nominate variety (var. cuspidata) occurs throughout the range of the species and var. nana which is only known from Japan and the Russian Far East. The occurrence of this latter variety is poorly documented; both its taxonomic status and its occurrence are in need of further investigation.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2010-12-15
Assessor(s): Katsuki, T. & Luscombe, D
Reviewer(s): Thomas, P. & Farjon, A.
Justification:
Exploitation of this species has only affected subpopulations in certain parts of its extensive range, hence it is assumed that population reduction has been limited and has not had sufficient impact to warrant any assessment other than Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Recorded from the Russian Far East: Kuril Is., Sakhalin, Primorye; China: Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Shaanxi; North Korea; South Korea; and Japan. The extent of occurrence is in excess of 20,000 km2. The area of occupancy has not been estimated.
Countries:
Native:
China (Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Shaanxi); Japan (Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku); Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Russian Federation (Kuril Is., Primoryi, Sakhalin)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The overall population trend is likely to be stable although there may have been some decline in areas where clear-felling of forests has occurred..
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Taxus cuspidata occurs sparsely in mixed conifer and conifer-deciduous broad-leaved forests in lowland to lower montane altitudes from 100 m to 1,600 m a.s.l. In NE China it occurs in conifer forest with Abies nephrolepis, Picea jezoensis, Pinus koraiensis, and Larix gmelinii var. olgensis, in Sakhalin Island and northern Japan with Abies sachalinensis, Picea glehnii, P. jezoensis, Larix kaempferi, and various angiosperm trees e.g. Acer spp., Betula spp., Populus maximowiczii, Juglans mandshurica, Sorbus aucuparia, Ulmus spp., and Kalopanax ricinifolium. Further south in Japan it is common in the understorey of woods with Acer spp., Ulmus davidiana var. japonica, Tilia japonica, Juglans ailanthifolia, Quercus mongolica var. grossesserata, and many other species of trees. It grows on a variety of soils derived from granitic, schistose or serpentine base rocks. The variety nana is mostly found growing on rocky sea coasts but may also occur on exposed rock outcrops in the interior.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The wood of this yew is used in China for construction, cooperage, for the making of furniture and for wood carving and turning. In Japan it is prized for interior finish, household furniture, utensils, marquetry, wood turning and sculpture; on a more industrial scale it is used to make pencils. The Ainu people of Hokkaido and Sakhalin made their bows, as well as the scabbards of hunting knives, from its wood. The heartwood yields a brown or red dye. Extracts of many parts of the plant (roots, wood, bark and leaves) are used in traditional Chinese medicine (treating diabetes) while in modern times the pharmaceutical industry became much interested in the anti-cancer properties of its alkaloids (taxanes, drug name: Taxol®), which appear to be present in all species in low but varying concentrations. The seeds contain oils which are also extracted, but treatment is required to neutralize the poisonous alkaloids. In horticulture it has been so popular for a long time that the species is now rare in the wild, but it is grown nearly everywhere in the urbanized areas of Japan. Numerous cultivars exist, and the species is used in bonsai culture. Japanese yew was introduced to Europe (England) in 1855 by Robert Fortune and more cultivars have been developed here as well as in the USA. A hybrid between T. baccata and T. cuspidata (Taxus ×media Rehd.) originated in the USA around 1900 and has given rise to further cultivars.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species has been listed on CITES Appendix II in connection with the exploitation of its foliage for the extraction of chemicals active as an anti-cancer drug. This exploitation was localized and has not resulted in significant decline throughout the wide range of this species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species has been listed on CITES Appendix II and is also recorded from various protected areas in most parts of its range.

Citation: Katsuki, T. & Luscombe, D 2013. Taxus cuspidata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 29 November 2014.
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