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Idaho Fish and Game


Ornamental Yew and Wildlife

In Idaho, fatal ingestion of Japanese yew has been documented in elk, moose, deer, and pronghorn, especially in winter. Learn more about these plants here.

This page serves as a reference for yew in Idaho. Please refer to the white paper and below referenced blogs and press releases for additional information regarding yew in Idaho.

The following information is derived from the white paper.

Yew Species in Idaho and Their Toxicity Risk to Wildlife, Livestock, Pets, and Humans

Yews are very popular in residential and commercial landscapes across Idaho and the US. They are attractive, evergreen shrubs or small trees with bright red, berry-like fruits. They are easy to maintain and easy to grow--tolerating shade and a variety of soil types.

However, despite yew’s popularity as an ornamental shrub or tree, they have long been recognized as toxic to livestock and humans.


Shrubs that can be planted instead of yew

For more information about these species, review the yew white paper.

These Idaho native evergreens are non-toxic and can tolerate at least some shade:

  • Western swordfern (Polystichum munitum)
  • Oregon boxleaf (Pachystima myrsinites)
  • Curl-leaf mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius)
  • Russet buffaloberry (Shepherdia canadensis)
  • Oakleaf sumac (Rhus trilobata)
  • Oregon grape-holly (Berberis aquifolium, Mahonia aquifolium)

Several other Idaho native shrubs tolerate at least some shade, but are not evergreen:

  • Syringa (Philadelphus lewisii)
  • Woods rose (Rosa woodsii)
  • Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus)
  • Oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor)
  • Mallow ninebark (Physocarpus malvaceus)
  • Rocky mountain maple (Acer glabrum)
  • Golden currant (Ribes aureum)
  • Red flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum)
  • Common snowberry (Symphoricarpus albus)
  • Red-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea)
  • Highbush cranberry/mooseberry (Viburnum edule)

These non-native evergreen shrubs tolerate at least some shade:

  • Evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum)
  • False cypress (Chamaecyparis spp.)
  • Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)