Taxus wallichiana is usually considered to be a wide ranging species that occurs from Afghanistan eastwards through the Himalayas into southwestern China. Disjunct subpopulations in Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines are also sometimes identified as this species. Detailed morphological and molecular analyses of Himalayan and Chinese subpopulations over the last decade indicate that subpopulations in the western Himalayas represent a distinct species (T. contorta Griff.). In the eastern Himalayas two species are present: T. wallichiana and T. mairei. Subpopulations in southern Vietnam have been re-identified as T. mairei while those in the Philippines and Indonesia are the subject of ongoing research.
The wood of Himalayan Yew is durable and strong and is used for door frames, furniture, candlesticks and knife handles. In Bhutan, especially in the East, people use the wood for making milk and water containers. It is also used for gates and fences. The wood is also burnt as incense in Nepal and parts of Tibet. In other areas the wood is used as fuel. Foliage may be used as fodder. The alkaloid compounds (taxanes) of the bark and leaves are a source for the anti-cancer drug paclitaxel (Taxol®) which has become a major reason for exploitation in recent years. Traditional medicine has made use of young shoots and leaves and sometimes of inner bark for a long time in various potions, tinctures, and pastes. The fleshy aril around the seed is consumed by local inhabitants as jams. The inner bark also produces a red dye, often used in religious ceremonies by Brahmins of Nepal.