Idaho Fish and Game: Japanese yew is fatal to moose and other big game

Idaho Fish and Games issues warning about pretty exotic evergreen-

A news release with picture of two dead moose leads an important warning about the Japanese yew, an low evergreen with a red berry popular with people during the holidays and as a landscape plant.  The landscape part of the warning is becoming more relevant as new people move to the countryside and plant exotic vegetation to landscape their second homes.

This is potent poisonous plant to moose and many other animals including dogs, though they are not likely to eat it.  The yew contains the poison, taxine. Animals who eat it rarely survive. A good mouthful can even kill a cow or horse within a half hour. It is, of course poison to humans too.

Photo of the Japanese yew



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  1. DB Avatar

    Interesting. However, our native Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia) provide food and thermal cover for wintering elk and moose in North Idaho.

    1. Toby Avatar

      My niece’s boyfriend cleared bushes out from their new home. He brought them to our farm and threw them out to our goat herd to munch on. We woke up to six dead goats and two have miscarried. I thought it was some sort of pine. We took a branch to our vet and found out it was Japanese Yew.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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