Tree Of The Month – Yew (Taxus baccata)

Yew TreeNatural History: Although a large tree, the yew is not tall, rarely growing over 20ft. It is, however, one of the longest lived of all trees and despite its slow rate of growth, can reach a girth of 50ft. The yew’s branches start just a few feet above the ground, growing out almost horizontally and throwing out numerous leafy twigs to provide dense and extensive shade. The male and female flowers are usually borne on separate trees although you may spot the odd yew tree where one branch has flowers of the opposite sex to those of the majority of the branches.

Medicinal Uses: Yew is now medicinally-licensed for the treatment of breast and ovarian cancer in the UK and the USA - but only under medical supervision. All parts of the plant are poisonous to eat with just 50-100g of yew needles providing a big enough dose to cause death.

Ancient Wisdom: A powerful symbol of rebirth and regeneration. As it ages and the old trunk dies, the new tree grows out of the spongy dying mass of the old making Yew is a great gift for anyone moving house, starting over or changing career.

Yew Tree Care & Tips: Does best in chalky soils but can be grown elsewhere. For best results, keep your tree out of full sun. People think yew is frustratingly slow-growing but with a good start; i.e. well-prepared soil and careful watering, these trees, especially the younger, smaller saplings, will get a spurt on and can provide impressive hedging as well as a wildlife attraction in your own garden.