A BIG Yew (taxus Cuspidata Capitata)

I acquired this large yew from a local nursery on sale. Yews are very hardy in my area and also make great bonsai. They are probably one of the best conifers to work on since they will easily back-bud on old wood. I have a couple of yews in my collection but none (or any of my trees) are near this size.

One thing to keep in mind is that its ok to handle yews however do not ingest any parts of the plant (especially the berries) since it is toxic. Yews grow very well in shaded areas and are heavy drinkers. Although they like a lot of water they need to be in a well draining soil because their roots are very soft and fleshy and are susceptible to root rot. But keep in mind that since they have soft, fleshy roots they can dry very quickly and die off as well.

Over in Europe ,Yews are some of the oldest living trees and there are some incredible pictures of these trees you can find on the internet. 

Now my work-in-progress yew


As you can see it is a large tree. It is quite large in comparison to my riding mower. This is how it was purchased from the local nursery. 


I am making a temporary growing box it will spend the next couple years in as it progresses towards becoming a bonsai.


Growing box completed with securing wire, lava rock and gravel for a fast draining layer at bottom. 


Sitting up on a bin getting ready for some minor root work.


Burlap removed and a horrible rock hard mud/clay soil root-ball. It’s amazing that it even grew in that terrible soil! 


I didn’t get any in-action pics of working the root-ball. I was the only one around at the time and I was covered in mud. I raked and washed out as much dirt as I could with very minimal root disturbance. There was one large root that had to be cut so it would fit in the box but it had very few fine roots on it so it should not affect the tree. The tree sits in the box and is ready for some fresh much better bonsai soil. 


After filling in all the gaps with bonsai soil and working it in with a chopstick I did some initial pruning. The tree was suffering from some interior die-back since the external foliage was so thick. As of now this is how the tree will stay most likely for the remainder of the year. There is already some back-budding occurring which is a great sign. I will ponder on a final design for the tree over the next couple months and this winter I will do some styling/wiring on the tree. 


This is the mess of foliage from the pruning. I only removed about a third of the foliage and still got this huge mound! It’s a no brainer as to why some of the interior was dying back. 


Here is a close-up of the fat trunk and nebari (surface roots). It’s about 4 inches wide! The nebari was scrapped up a bit from the difficult re-potting of such a large tree by myself. But in time it will heal over and be back to normal. 

In the future I will do an updated post on this tree once I actually do some styling to it. Until then thanks for reading! 🙂

3 thoughts on “A BIG Yew (taxus Cuspidata Capitata)”

    1. I was surprised as well but then again they are a very hardy species. I have another smaller one which actually happens to be one of my favorites. I plan on doing a post on that one a little later.

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