The yew tree is a familiar part of the British landscape and is often found in churchyards. It is also used for formal hedges and topiary.

The yew tree has produced the most ancient trees in Britain, some thousands of years old. Most really old trees, that are not yews, die because they collapse under their own weight or get uprooted during storms. But the yew, when it reaches a certain size, stops growing altogether which protects the trunk. The branches of the yews dip down, send out roots and start a new tree as part of the old tree. In these ways, the yew, if left alone, could live on forever.

Here is a short video about yews planted in churchyards in Britain. The next video talks about the unique survival strategy of the yew in that the center of the tree hollows out: go here.

FunFacts about Yews (Source) (Source)                                         

  • The name for a variety of coniferous trees from the genus Taxus. The yew in this blog is the Taxus baccata or the European yew.
  • The names of other yews are: Pacific or western, Canadian, Chinese, Japanese, Florida, Himalayan, Sumatran and Mexican.
  • Baccata is Latin for bearing red berries.
  • Yews are small to medium-sized evergreen trees that range from 10–20 metres (33–66 ft).
  • European yews generally live from 400 to 600 years, though there are ten yews in Britain that are believed to predate the 10th Century.
  • A yew in Perth Scotland has the largest trunk girth of all the yews and is estimated to be somewhere between two and three thousand years old.
  • All parts of the yew are toxic to humans, except for the flesh of the yew berries. However, the seeds within the berries are toxic.
  • At times, the Celts, rather than submit to an enemy, would either die by their own swords or by poison extracted from the yew.
  • In 1967, certain elements of the bark of the yew tree were found to be effective anti-cancer agents.
  • Yew wood is classified as a closed-pore, softwood like cedar or pine. Yew is one of the hardest of the softwoods. Because yew has remarkable elasticity, it’s perfect for making bows.
  • The Clacton Spear is the oldest known worked wooden implement. It’s 420,000 years old and is made of yew.
  • The oldest surviving longbow was found in Rotten Bottom, Scotland and is said to date back to 4040 BC to 3640 BC.
  • Yew trees were sacred to the Druids.
  • Because of the yew’s dense, green foliage, it is used for formal hedges and topiary. In addition, its slow growth rate means it only has to be clipped once per year.

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For a chance to win this paranormal romance bracelet, scroll to the bottom of the page and read the details for entering. You will be leaving a comment as the entry requirement. Giveaway ends midnight, Arizona time, December 14, 2017.

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*** This Week’s Giveaway is Closed ***

We have a winner! Congrats Lori H.!!!

First December Winner: Merrie W.!!!

November Winners: Kim S., Tamara, ELF, Grace W. and Catedid

To be in the running for this handcrafted paranormal romance bracelet, made by yours truly, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post. Also, feel free to post comments on every Caris Roane blog, Monday thru Thursday this week, to increase your chances of winning this week’s prize drawing. Only one win per month allowed!

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*** This week’s giveaway! *** To be entered into the giveaway drawing, please leave a comment about yews. Have you ever had a yew in your garden? Created a topiary or hedge with them? Which photo did you like best? Feel free to share whatever comes to mind and share from the heart. 

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33 thoughts on “Yews

  1. Over the years I’ve read several books that mentioned yew trees or weapons made of yew, but I don’t think I ever knew what they looked like! This is also the first time I’ve seen a picture of the unique-looking berries. I like the fourth (round) yew picture best!

  2. I’ve heard of yew trees but didn’t know much about them, so I really enjoyed this blog. Very informative and great pictures! Pretty sure I have seen these trees in various parks and just didn’t know what they were–now I will be watching for them!

  3. I didn’t know about Yew trees. They are very mystical. I like that they rot on the inside and you can get inside them.

    • Jackie,
      I had a similar reaction. There was even one video that showed a little house built as part of the hollowed out part and people could have tea inside. It feels like you’d be part of a fairy-tale.

      Buckeye, Arizona USA

  4. WOW these trees/shrubs look like mushrooms. That is so magical. I have never heard of a yew before reading this….amazing! Thank you

  5. I really enjoy all the photos you post . They are so beautiful and I finally learned what the bushes I saw as a child with these berries on hem are called.

  6. Yew trees always make me think of the Agatha Christie story whereby poison was made from the yew. (It was in the marmalade.)

  7. Wow. The 4th photo is awesome. What a beautiful tree. I honestly don’t know if I have seen one before I’m sure if I did it was probably as a hedge.. I didn’t know tamoxifen was made from the yes tree or it was so poisonous. Amazing that it can be used as a cancer medication. . The 4th photo is my favorite. Thank you for the information on them.

  8. I had a few small yews until DH mowed them down with the lawn tractor.
    He thought they were brush!

    Not the first time he has mistakenly (?) mowed down things in his path.

    He hasn’t been thrown in my dungeon yet, but he better watch it.

    • Sandra,
      Lol! Yes, he’d better watch it. DH isn’t allowed to work in my garden. When he thinks he’s doing me a favor, I usually end up weeping at the damage!

      Buckeye, Arizona USA

  9. I like picture #6 with the garden and yews. Imagine them getting so old, poisonous (but can be used as a cancer medicine) and have pretty berries. I have never seen yews going by the pictures you have posted. Thanks for the facinating information though and for being such a great “teacher”. 🙂

  10. The first time I had heard of a yew tree was when I was reading Robin Hood many, many years ago, and I believe it is mentioned in there. I never knew they had berries like that. They are so bright and cheery. I have never had an yews in my garden. My favorite picture is that wild one of the rounded tree. That just caught my fancy!

  11. Wow, yews are interesting. I liked the video. The pictures are beautiful. I find it so cool that yews can be in medicine, live so long, be shaped into interesting shapes, and are considered mystical by druids. Also much more lol.

  12. I’ve never had a yew tree and possibly have never seen one in person. But they are very cool looking. Especially the ones that are shaped like mushrooms. I’d love to visit a place that had yew trees.

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