Feb 2016

The majority of the world’s ancient yews are in the British Isles and 80-85% of these are in churchyards.
Yews are adapted to be one of nature’s great survivors:
Yews are attacked by few organisms – all but the flesh of the red berry is poisonous.
Almost all yews become hollow after 400-500 years. A hollow cylinder is stronger than a solid one and more pliable in strong winds.
New shoots can form at the base of the trunk and take root, creating what appear to be new trees growing on the outside.
In its natural state the lower branches would reach the ground, take root and provide anchorage for the tree. This can also provide the point where a new tree grows. Also a tree’s roots can resurface and provide the growing point for a new tree!
Yews can send roots downwards from a branch into the decaying heartwood. The tree regenerates from the inside, creating a solid tree once again. Theoretically this cycle could continue forever.
Churchyards are a haven for these fantastic trees. Look after them by keeping the base clear of compost and stone, remov-ing ivy and seeking specialist advice before any pruning events!
Visit the Ancient Yew Group website www.ancient-yew.org.