Herb: Japanese Plum Yew

Latin name: Cephalotaxus harringtonia drupacea

Synonyms: Cephalotaxus drupacea

Family: Cephalotaxaceae (Plum Yew Family)

Edible parts of Japanese Plum Yew:

Fruit. - raw or cooked. The fruit closely resembles a plum in its structure, the flesh is thick, juicy and very sweet with a hint of pine in its flavour. The fruit is about 2 - 3cm long. The fruit does not always ripen in Britain, before full ripeness it has a disgusting resinous flavour that coats the mouth and refuses to go away for hours. Seed - raw or cooked. Oily. The seed has a firm texture and a slightly resinous flavour.

Description of the plant:


5 m
(16 feet)

to May

Habitat of the herb:

An understorey shrub in woodlands.

Other uses of Japanese Plum Yew:

An oil obtained from the seed is used as an illuminant. Very tolerant of pruning, this plant makes a very good hedge in shady positions.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, it should then germinate in the following spring. A hard seedcoat can delay germination, especially in if the seed is not sown as soon as it is ripe. Stored seed should be cold-stratified and sown in a cold frame in the spring. Germination can take 18 months or more. Prick out the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on for at least their first winter under cover. Plant out in late spring after the last expected frosts. Greenwood cuttings of terminal shoots, August/September in a humid cold frame. Difficult.

Cultivation of Japanese Plum Yew:

An understorey shrub in woodlands.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Cephalotaxus harringtonia drupacea:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.