Based on the leaf picture, PlantNet identifies this as English Yew with 80% confidence. But mine is shaped like a sphere and does not look like any English Yews I found online that grow tall. Location is west Massachusetts.

Leave (large) English Yew? (large)

2 Answers 2


You can prune a yew into pretty much any shape you want, including hedges of any height from 2 or 3 feet up to as high as you want to go. They are also popular trees for topiary.

Left alone, they will eventually grow to 60 feet (20 meters) tall. They are also one of the longest lived tree species. In the UK the oldest yews are estimated to be between 2,000 and 5,000 years old, and trees younger than 900 years are not officially classified as "ancient."

  • 900 year old English yews are not found in North America, so most Americans only know it as a shrub. I was quite surprised the first time I saw a photo of one as a tree.
    – csk
    Jun 15, 2021 at 16:08
  • 1
    @csk One reason a lot of old (but not "ancient") yew trees are still around in the UK was that (for whatever reason) they were often grown in churchyards, and therefore fairly immune from somebody deciding to fell them because they were in the way of some new building or farming project.
    – alephzero
    Jun 15, 2021 at 19:32

Some varieties in US grow upright some spread. The spreading varieties do not grow tall. Presumably you have snow and flat top or spherical pruning may be a problem with snow weight damage . In northern IL ,I had a few branches break with two feet of snow on spherical shapes. Yews do take pruning well. When I saw yew in UK , I could hardly believe they were the same species . For some reason the get bigger in UK.

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