Garibaldi Park Whistler A to Z: NunatukThe Pacific yew or western yew is a coniferous tree that grows in Whistler and along the coast from Alaska to California. The Pacific yew’s unique appearance stands out among other more numerous and commonly known trees. The trunk is often contorted in angular directions toward gaps in the forest canopy and the branches are extremely long and sinewy. Branches tend to stretch toward the light and needles tend to only grow near the ends where light is found.

Whistler & Garibaldi Park

 Ablation Zone WhistlerAblation Zone  Accumulation Zone WhistlerAccumulation Zone  Garibaldi Park WhistlerAdit Lakes  Garibaldi Park WhistlerAiguille  Garibaldi Park WhistlerAlpine Zone  Garibaldi Park WhistlerArête  Garibaldi Park WhistlerARRTI  Garibaldi Park WhistlerArmchair Glacier  Garibaldi Park WhistlerThe Barrier  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBattleship Islands  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBears  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBench  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBergschrund  BivouacBivouac  Whistler Bungee BridgeBungee Bridge  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCairn/Inukshuk  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCarter,Neal  Garibaldi Park WhistlerChimney  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCirque  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCloudraker  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCoast Douglas-fir  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCoast Mountains  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCol  Garibaldi Park WhistlerColumnar Jointing  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCordilleran  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCornice  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCorrie Lake  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCrevasse  Garibaldi Park WhistlerDalgleish,Alec  Garibaldi Park WhistlerDeadfall  Emerald Park in WhistlerEmerald Forest  Erratics in Garibaldi Park and WhistlerErratic  The Fissile in Garibaldi Park, WhistlerThe Fissile  Fitzsimmons Creek in WhistlerFitzsimmons Creek  Garibaldi Park WhistlerFitzsimmons Range  Garibaldi Park WhistlerFyles,Tom  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGaribaldi Ranges  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGaribaldi Volcanic Belt  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGemel  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGlacier Window  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGreen Lake  Garibaldi Park WhistlerHoary Marmot  Garibaldi Park WhistlerKrummholz  Garibaldi Park WhistlerLithophyte  Lodgepole Pine Trees WhistlerLodgepole Pine  Glacier Moraines in Garibaldi Park WhistlerMoraine  Garibaldi Park WhistlerMt Garibaldi  Mount James Turner in Garibaldi Park, WhistlerMt James Turner  Mountain Hemlock Garibaldi Park WhistlerMountain Hemlock  Northair Mine in WhistlerNorthair Mine  North Arm FarmNorth Arm  Nunatuks in Whistler and Garibaldi ParkNunatuk  Nurse Stump or Log in WhistlerNurse Stump  Overlord Mountain and GlacierOverlord  Garibaldi Park WhistlerPacific Yew  Garibaldi Park WhistlerPaper Birch  Garibaldi Park WhistlerPeak 2 Peak  Garibaldi Park WhistlerRainbow Lodge  Garibaldi Park WhistlerRoundhouse  Garibaldi Park WhistlerRubble Creek  Garibaldi Park WhistlerScree  Garibaldi Park WhistlerSpearhead Range  Garibaldi Park WhistlerTarn  Garibaldi Park WhistlerThe Table  Garibaldi Park WhistlerTownsend,Charles  Usnea or Old Man's BeardUsnea  Waterbar or Cross DitchWaterbar  Western Hemlock Trees in WhistlerWestern Hemlock  Western RedcedarWestern Redcedar  Whistler SpruceWhistler Spruce  Mills Winram Whistler Coast Mountains MountaineerWinram,Mills

The Pacific yew a wonderfully exotic, jungle-like quality that contrasts to the uniformly vertical stands of western redcedarsDouglas-firs and western hemlocks that tend to grow nearby. Not only do Pacific yew trees tend to have powerfully elongated snake-like branches, but often have a trunk that appears to be several trees fused together. This feature is called fluting and is not unusual in Pacific yew trees as well as other rainforest trees adapting to unstable forests prone to flooding. The brightly coloured, crimson red bark on Pacific yew trees is yet another characteristic that catches your attention on many of Whistler’s beautiful hiking trails. Depending on time of day or weather will determine which colours you will see on a Pacific yew’s thin, peeling bark. Usually a variation of deep red, but other times you will see brown, purple, or even bright orange, vaguely comparable to arbutus trees! The range of colour is also due to the layer visible. The outer layer will be a duller purple or brown colour, while the inner layer of bark will be a much more vibrant, shiny and fresh looking deep red or purple.  Pacific yew trees have fairly easy to distinguish leaves/needles. Look for the dark green colour and the flat pattern of needles. Other trees in Whistler forests don't have such an organized flat pattern of similar length, dark green needles projecting from both sides of the twig in the same plane. The closest needle pattern you may find in another tree is on the western hemlock, however the flat pattern looks disorganized as the needles are of varying lengths. Also, the twig on the western hemlock is brown, whereas it is green on a Pacific yew. Pacific yew trees generally have a lifespan of about 200 to 300 years, though some have been known to live over 400 years. Most don’t exceed 20 metres in height, however occasionally they have been known to grow to 30 metres (100 feet). The Pacific yew trees in Whistler almost entirely reside below the canopy of larger trees such as western redcedars, coast Douglas-firs and western hemlocks. Taxine alkaloids in all species of yew trees worldwide cause them to be extremely poisonous. The Pacific yew is the least poisonous variation of yew tree as it contains only minimal amounts of Taxine, though still quite dangerous. Moose and deer seem to be the only animals to be unaffected by Taxine alkaloids as they happily eat the needles without ill effect. In humans Taxine Pacific yew needles may lead to death by cardiogenic shock. For most animals, including humans, ingesting any part of a Pacific yew tree containing Taxine alkaloids will result in neurological damage resulting in convulsions, fasciculation and paralysis.

Pacific Yew in Whistler

The Pacific yew is the only conifer species that produces berries instead of cones. The red flesh of the berry is the only part of yew trees that does not contain significant amounts of Taxine, though the seeds contain plenty. Humans and most animals avoid eating the toxic berries however some birds manage to avoid a horrifically painful death by separating and discarding the toxic seeds and eating just the flesh of the berry.  In 1971 Paclitaxel was isolated from the bark of Pacific yew trees and used successfully to treat many types of cancer. Suddenly yew trees worldwide became valuable and it is estimated that six trees were killed to treat one cancer patient. Inevitably this slow growing tree was massively reduced in numbers and ended up being classed as endangered. In the early 1990's synthetic production of Paclitaxel was developed and the Pacific yew is no longer endangered.

Pacific Yew Trees in Whistler

Yew wood is very strong, stiff and springy making it useful historically in weapons such as the English long bow, axes, tools, canoe paddles, and quite a lot more. Europe's oldest known natural human mummy Ötzi the Iceman died in the Otztal Alps over 5000 years ago, was carrying a bow and axe, both made of yew. The Latin word for yew tree is Taxus, which in turn was borrowed from the Scythian word Taxša which translates to both yew and bow.

Pacific Yew aka Wester Yew Trees in Whistler

How to Identify a Pacific Yew in Whistler

The brightly coloured bark on Pacific yew trees is probably the first thing you will notice. In the midst of other trees in a Whistler forest, Pacific yew trees stand out quite brightly. The purple/orange/deep red bark is very noticeable in a Whistler forest.

Pacific Yew Colourful Bark

Identifying a Pacific yew by looking at the leaves/needles is pretty easy in a Whistler forest. Look for the dark green colour and the flat pattern of needles. Other trees in Whistler forests don't have such an organized flat pattern of similar length, dark green needles projecting from both sides of the twig in the same plane. The closest needle pattern you may find in another tree is on the western hemlock, however the flat pattern looks disorganized as the needles are of varying lengths. Also, the twig on the western hemlock is brown, whereas it is green on a Pacific yew. Pacific yew needles are also likened to bananas due to their slight curve and rounded shape. If you look very closely at Pacific yew needle you will notice each has a soft point at the end.

Pacific Yew Flat Leaves

The underside of a Pacific yew needle is concave and pale green in colour, much lighter than the dark green on the upper side. One typical feature that conifer needles tend to have is a white band along the length of the underside. Pacific yews don't have this white band and according to the excellent smartphone app Trees Pacific NW, "The absence of white bands is positive identification of Pacific yew."

Pacific Yew Leaves Under

Pacific Yew Pollen

Pacific Yew Trees in Whistler

Pacific yew trees are fairly common in Whistler forests and once you spot one with its crimson red bark you will notice more and more. They are very hardy and don't mind fighting for sunlight near the forest floor. Emerald Forest in Whistler Cay is home to countless young and not-so-young Pacific yew trees. This expansive forest is also home to several large and interesting western redcedars, coast Douglas-firs, and quite a lot more.

Pacific Yew Forest in Whistler

Pacific Yew on a Nurse Log

Books About Whistler Trees

Plants of the Whistler RegionPFlora and Fauna of the West Coast of BClants of the Whistler Region is an excellent book that includes great pictures and descriptions of most trees you will find in Whistler. Small enough to fit in your pocket and comprehensive enough to identify most things you will encounter growing in the forests of Whistler. Along with conifer trees and broadleaf trees the book has chapters on flowers, berries, ferns and shrubs. You can find Plants of the Whistler Region on Amazon, the Whistler Library and at Armchair Books in Whistler Village. The author Collin Varner has a wonderful series of Plants of.. books on various regions beyond Whistler. Plants of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, Plants of the Gulf and San Juan Islands and Southern Vancouver Island, and Plants of the West Coast Trail. In the last couple years he has started a new series of books. The Flora and Fauna of Coastal British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest and Edible and Medicinal Flora of the West Coast: British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest.

Whistler & Garibaldi Park Glossary

 Ablation Zone WhistlerAblation Zone  Accumulation Zone WhistlerAccumulation Zone  Garibaldi Park WhistlerAdit Lakes  Garibaldi Park WhistlerAiguille  Garibaldi Park WhistlerAlpine Zone  Garibaldi Park WhistlerArête  Garibaldi Park WhistlerARRTI  Garibaldi Park WhistlerArmchair Glacier  Garibaldi Park WhistlerThe Barrier  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBattleship Islands  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBears  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBench  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBergschrund  BivouacBivouac  Whistler Bungee BridgeBungee Bridge  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCairn/Inukshuk  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCarter,Neal  Garibaldi Park WhistlerChimney  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCirque  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCloudraker  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCoast Douglas-fir  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCoast Mountains  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCol  Garibaldi Park WhistlerColumnar Jointing  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCordilleran  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCornice  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCorrie Lake  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCrevasse  Garibaldi Park WhistlerDalgleish,Alec  Garibaldi Park WhistlerDeadfall  Emerald Park in WhistlerEmerald Forest  Erratics in Garibaldi Park and WhistlerErratic  The Fissile in Garibaldi Park, WhistlerThe Fissile  Fitzsimmons Creek in WhistlerFitzsimmons Creek  Garibaldi Park WhistlerFitzsimmons Range  Garibaldi Park WhistlerFyles,Tom  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGaribaldi Ranges  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGaribaldi Volcanic Belt  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGemel  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGlacier Window  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGreen Lake  Garibaldi Park WhistlerHoary Marmot  Garibaldi Park WhistlerKrummholz  Garibaldi Park WhistlerLithophyte  Lodgepole Pine Trees WhistlerLodgepole Pine  Glacier Moraines in Garibaldi Park WhistlerMoraine  Garibaldi Park WhistlerMt Garibaldi  Mount James Turner in Garibaldi Park, WhistlerMt James Turner  Mountain Hemlock Garibaldi Park WhistlerMountain Hemlock  Northair Mine in WhistlerNorthair Mine  North Arm FarmNorth Arm  Nunatuks in Whistler and Garibaldi ParkNunatuk  Nurse Stump or Log in WhistlerNurse Stump  Overlord Mountain and GlacierOverlord  Garibaldi Park WhistlerPacific Yew  Garibaldi Park WhistlerPaper Birch  Garibaldi Park WhistlerPeak 2 Peak  Garibaldi Park WhistlerRainbow Lodge  Garibaldi Park WhistlerRoundhouse  Garibaldi Park WhistlerRubble Creek  Garibaldi Park WhistlerScree  Garibaldi Park WhistlerSpearhead Range  Garibaldi Park WhistlerTarn  Garibaldi Park WhistlerThe Table  Garibaldi Park WhistlerTownsend,Charles  Usnea or Old Man's BeardUsnea  Waterbar or Cross DitchWaterbar  Western Hemlock Trees in WhistlerWestern Hemlock  Western RedcedarWestern Redcedar  Whistler SpruceWhistler Spruce  Mills Winram Whistler Coast Mountains MountaineerWinram,Mills

The rocky and narrow row of islands in Garibaldi Lake just offshore from the Garibaldi Lake campsite are known as Battleship Islands.  Named by the ...
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The Fitzsimmons Range is a subsection of the Garibaldi Ranges that covers the area between the valleys of Cheakamus Lake and Fitzsimmons Creek.  Fitzsimmons ...
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The Barrier formed as a result of huge lava flows from Clinker Peak on the west shoulder of Mount Price during the last ice age.  About thirteen thousand ...
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Rainbow Lodge was a popular wilderness lodge in the small community called Alta Lake, and what would eventually be called Whistler  It was a fishing and ...
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Whistler spruce is a hybrid of the Sitka spruce and the interior Engelmann spruce. Sitka spruce trees thrive in the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest ...
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The Garibaldi Ranges are a subdivision of the Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains.  Deriving its name from Mount Garibaldi, the Garibaldi Ranges cover ...
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The Cordilleran Ice Sheet covered most of north-west North America for much of the last 2.6 million years.  At the Last Glacial Maximum during the Last ...
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Overlord Mountain is the highest peak in the Fitzsimmons Range.  Overlord is surrounded by several mountains that collectively are named the Overlord ...
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Rent Hiking Gear Whistler Garibaldi Park

Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking

Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerAlexander Falls  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyAncient Cedars  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerBlack Tusk  Pay Use Hiking Trail WhistlerBlackcomb Mountain  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerBrandywine Falls  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyBrandywine Meadows  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyBrew Lake  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerCallaghan Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerCheakamus Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyCheakamus River  Whistler Hiking Trail HardCirque Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyFlank Trail  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerGaribaldi Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerGaribaldi Park  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerHelm Creek  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyJane Lakes  Joffre Lakes Hike in Whistler in SeptemberJoffre Lakes  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyKeyhole Hot Springs  Hiking Trail Hard Dog FriendlyLogger’s Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyMadeley Lake  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyMeager Hot Springs Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerNairn Falls  Whistler Hiking Trail HardNewt Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerPanorama Ridge  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerParkhurst Ghost Town  Hiking Trail ModerateRainbow Falls  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerRainbow Lake  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyRing Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerRusset Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasySea to Sky Trail  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerSkookumchuck Hot Springs  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerSloquet Hot Springs  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyMount Sproatt  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerTaylor Meadows  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyTrain Wreck  Hiking Trail Hard - Whistler TrailsWedgemount Lake  Pay Use Hiking Trail WhistlerWhistler Mountain

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Alexander Falls is a very impressive 43 metre/141 foot waterfall just 30 to 40 minutes south of Whistler in the Callaghan Valley. Open year-round and ...
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Whistler Train Wreck is a hidden little world of brightly graffiti painted, wrecked train cars along a gorgeous stretch of Cheakamus River.  One ...
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Mount Meager erupted here 2400 years ago and filled the valley with debris that cemented into rock that blocked Lillooet River.  Eventually water erosion ...
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Shannon Falls towers above Howe Sound at 335 metres as the third tallest falls in BC.  The wonderful, though very short trail winds through a beautiful old ...
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Meager Hot Springs(aka: Meager Creek Hot Springs) is located 93 kilometres northwest of Whistler, was beautifully developed into gorgeous pools, with a caretaker and usage charge.  At its height of ...
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Brandywine Falls is one of the must see sights on the drive to or from Whistler, and arguably the nicest of Whistler’s numerous beautiful waterfalls.  Located about halfway between Squamish and Whistler, the falls ...
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Whistler has an absurd number of wonderful and free hiking trails and Parkhurst Ghost Town certainly ranks as one of the most unusual, exotic and interesting. Parkhurst was a little logging town perched on ...
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Russet Lake is a surreal little paradise that lays at the base of The Fissile, in Garibaldi Provincial Park. The Fissile is the strikingly bronze mountain visible from Whistler Village.  From the Village ...
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