I Love Yew

White-tailed deer browsing leaves in Newark, OH (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

17 August 2022

Yews are popular landscaping shrubs but they don’t last long in the face of deer overpopulation.

All yew species are toxic to some degree, but our native Taxus canadensis is less toxic than others and was used medicinally. Deer don’t read the warning labels. They love yew.

Closeup of Canadian yew branch and leaves (photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Canadian yew aril and branch (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Every night they creep up behind Carnegie Museum and browse the yews along the driveway to the parking garage. They nip off the small branches and eat all the leaves. The shrubs struggle to grow new leaves for photosynthesis before the deer return.

Yew overbrowsed by deer behind Carnegie Museum, 16 August 2022 (photo by Kate St. John)

Deer have killed the yews closest to the sidewalk (dead twigs), overbrowsed the middle shrubs (green knobs), and cannot yet reach the tallest branches. But they are eating their way there.

Yews browsed by deer behind Carnegie Museum, 16 Aug 2022 (photo by Kate St. John)

Don’t assume their love stops with yew. There are more delectables in Schenley Park that they adore. Soon we’ll explore more.

Doe and fawn browsing a tree (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

p.s. Just for yuks here are 13 garden plants that deer will utterly destroy. Meanwhile, did you know that Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata) is so toxic it can kill wildlife? Unfortunately its pollen triggers asthma.

Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata) closeup of leaves and stem (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

(photos from Wikimedia Commons; click on the captions to see the originals)

4 thoughts on “I Love Yew

  1. Oh dear. 🙂 Could not find the article on plants the deer will leave alone. Was that a joke, perhaps?

  2. I just say the deer are pruning my euonymus fortunei. They have now also started nibbling my burning bushes.

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