Chinese yew; thaner (Silba 1986), rakhal (Punjab area), tingschi (rest of India), deodar (=God's tree) (Hartzell 1991 [as T. wallichiana]); tampinur batu [Karo]; kaju tadji [Mt. Dempo] (de Laubenfels 1988).
Cephalotaxus sumatrana Miq. 1859
We have the usual Taxus problem here; whether morphologically similar taxa should be distinguished as species, varieties, or otherwise. This treatment follows de Laubenfels (1988) in designating a single species of Asian yew where Farjon (1998) sees five (T. chinensis, cuspidata, fuana, sumatrana, wallichiana), all with disjunct distributions. Further work on the taxon (the last comprehensive study was in 1976) is clearly required.
Evergreen shrub or tree to 14 m tall, wide and bushy when cultivated. "Leaves linear-lanceolate, falcate, spirally arranged, spreading in two ranks, about 1.2-2.7 cm. long, 2-2.5 mm. broad, abruptly pointed at the apex, the base decurrent, yellowish green above, pale green beneath. Seeds drupe-like, the fleshy arillate coat reddish at maturity, ripening in the first season (November). Trunk bark grayish red, with flimsy longitudinal commissure-like chinks, exfoliating in irregular flakes and leaving scars with dachytogram-like streaks on the trunk, flakes about 1.5 mm. thick; lenticels inconspicuous; outer bark about 0.4-1.6 mm., membranous or fibrous, with a reddish brown to orange yellow cross-section; phelloderm more or less conspicuous; inner bark 0.5-0.8 cm. thick, pink finely fibrous; freshly cut cambium and newly formed phloem colorless, transparent, becoming pale orange yellow after cutting. Freshly cut sapwood pale apricot yellow, wood rays inconspicuous" (Liu 1970 [as T. celebica]).
Himal: Afghanistan, Tibet, Nepal, India, Bhutan, Burma and China at 1500 to 3100 m elevation (Liu 1970 [as T. celebica]); also Vietnam at 400-2150 m elevation (Silba 1986); also Sumatra, Philippines, Celebes at 1400-2300 m in moist subtropical forests, tropical highland ridges and moss forests in the subcanopy, locally dominant (de Laubenfels 1988); also Taiwan, in northern and central parts of the island at elevations of 1000-3000 m (Liu 1970 [as T. celebica]).
De Laubenfels (1988) offers a photograph of a specimen photographed in 1933 on Mt. Bonthain, Celebes, that appears to be ca. 200 cm dbh. V. Dinets reports: "The largest one I've seen was in Mekong Canyon on Tibet/Yunnan border: 15+ m high, 30-40 cm dbh. Another tree in Kali Gandaki Gorge, Nepal was ±50 cm dbh, but only 7-8 m high" (Vladimir Dinets e-mail 1998.01.10 [as T. wallichiana]).
Used for bedsteads, jampan poles, unholstery, clogs, whip handles, and of course bows. The bark is used to make a red dye. Venerated and used in religious ceremonies in parts of the northwest Himal (Hartzell 1991 [as T. wallichiana]).
Taroko National Park (Taiwan) looks like an interesting place to see it. Vladimir Dinets (e-mail, 2004.11.14) reports that large trees can be seen in Pakistan: Ayubia National Park, near Muree, 2-3 hours from Islamabad.
The red spot a Brahmin places in the center of the forehead is made with a paste of powdered yew bark and oil (Liu 1970 [as T. celebica]).
Listed (as T. chinensis and T. wallichiana) as threatened in Viet Nam by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Hiep et al. 2004 (as T. chinensis and T. wallichiana).
Huang 1994 (the Flora of Taiwan).
Luu and Thomas 2004 provide a description, range map, conservation status, drawings and photos for its occurrence in Vietnam, where they describe it as Taxus chinensis (in the northern provinces of Ha Giang, Hoa Binh, and Son La) and T. wallichiana (in the southern province of Lam Dong).
Last Modified 2012-11-23