Running a close second to junipers in popularity are the yews. Though not quite as diverse in habit as junipers they’re widely planted because of their availability, as well as for their deep green foliage, rapid growth (often eight to ten inches per year) and tolerance of severe pruning.
Like junipers, yews are also relatively easy to identify - though not because of sharp needles.
Rather, their needles are flat, mostly between three-quarters and one-inch long, dark green above and lighter green below without white stripes running the length of the lower surface of each needle. In the picture at left, a yew needle is larger than those of a balsam fir, far left, and hemlock, center. It also lacks the white stripes characteristic of both fir and hemlock.
With the exception of rare, dwarf hemlocks, yews are the only evergreen shrub you’ll find in Central New York landscapes that have flat needles held individually along the stem.
Yews are also the only coniferous evergreen in Central New York landscapes that produce fleshy fruits, which are bright red fruit on female plants.