||This small, evergreen, conifer genus in the yew family consists of around 7 species, occurring in cool-temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere and some more tropical mountain regions, including the Philippines and Mexico. Most are small to medium trees, conical in shape when young but maturing (over hundreds of years) into a domed crown, although some cultivars are more like shrubs. They have sharply pointed, linear or slightly sickle-shaped leaves, often with prominent olive green midribs. Most species have separate male and female plants and flower in spring, with the solitary male cones being stalked and the female cones made up of a number of overlapping pairs of scales. The single seed found on the female plant is partly clothed in a red fleshy covering (or aril) that is sweet and edible; the rest of the plant, including the seed, is poisonous. Seeds are dispersed by birds. These conifers are useful specimen or hedge plants and can make handsome topiary subjects. They are slow growing but long lived.
||CULTIVATION: Most members of the genus are fairly adaptable in cool regions, tolerating sun or shade, frost, alkaline soils, exposure and pollution. Propagate from seed sown as soon as ripe, from cuttings or by grafting.