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Yew Facts

Taxus baccata

Yew is from the Taxaceae family and it’s botanical name is Taxus baccata,

Yew is reasonably hardy and grows on any soil, although it prefers chalk and limestone.

Many people dismiss Yew for hedging plants, thinking they grow too slowly, but a newly planted yew hedge only takes 10-12 years to grow to a height of 8 feet if the ground is prepared correctly.

Don't be tempted to buy an 8-10 year old 6 foot specimen. In a 12 year trial conducted by the gardener Nathaniel Lloyd, it was discovered that the older trees fared less well than younger and cheaper plants of one to three feet tall. In addition, after 9 years, the shorter plants had caught up with the taller ones. If you are prepared to wait, it is much cheaper to buy the smaller plants.

The year 2000 saw a shortage of Yew saplings because of the 'Yews for the Millennium' project, which planted them in every parish in the country, accounting for 50,000 trees. In addition, the bad press surrounding Leylandii ('the poor man's Yew') has resulted in a switch towards Yew for hedging.

Yew is a very old tree name and is derived from the Celtic 'iw'. Yew was one of the seven sacred trees in Celtic tradition and was used by the Druids for prophecy.

Yew was the preferred wood for making medieval longbows because of it’s flexibility.

It is widely believed that early Christians adopted ancient sacred sites for their churches, hence the proliferation of Yew trees in churchyards.



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