Jane Peters
British Wildlife 35.3 December 2023

The natural and cultural history of Yew

Yew is one of three native species of conifer in Britain, and although in England Yew woodlands are generally found in the South East, we often see planted individuals in churchyards and gardens more widely. Peter ThomasFred Hageneder and Chris Knapman describe the ecology of Yew, its cultural history and relationship with humans over millennia, and its toxicity and value to wildlife. 

Think of the Yew Taxus baccata and it may call to mind an atmospheric woodland, such as that at Kingley Vale in the South Downs National Park; but more than likely is that you will see a stately old tree either in a churchyard or in a garden. Indeed, Britain and Ireland, and particularly Wales, are internationally important for old and venerable examples of this species.

Natural reflections
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