©BSNHS 2014

The Yew is one of only three of our indigenous conifers. The botanic name Taxus is from the latin for the tree.

The leaves are evergreen, less than 2.5cm in length, very narrow with central vein and recurved edges. Yews are normally dioecious.

The structure of both male and female flowers , along side the unique fruit with its single seed enclosed by the red aril, are all characteristics of the genus Taxus.

Like all trees sycamores are affected by pest and diseases, here are a few to look out for:-

Tar Spot Fungus (Rhytisma acerinum)   black spots on the upper leaf surface causing only superficial damage.

Sooty bark Disease (Cryptostrona corticale) identifiable by wilt, die-back, bark shedding and the reduction of a layer of brownish/black dry spores in the bark invading the cambium and phloem of affected trees.

Few phytophagous invertebrates are known to be associated with the yew, but a small cecidomyiid fly,  Taxomyia taxi, causes the growth of the artichoke gall.

Yew male flowers

Common Yew Taxus baccata

Yew trunk

August Tree of the Month - Common Yew Taxus baccata  of  the family Taxaceae

Male flowers consist of a bulbous head with 6-12 stamens attached to each stamen are approx 6 pollen sacs.

Female flowers grow on the underside of the stem as fleshy discs with a single ovule in the centre.

Flowering is from February to April when clouds of pollen are released with the slightest movement of the tree, although honey bees have been observed collecting pollen, wind is the primary means of pollen dispersal.