English yew has inhabited landscapes and gardens for centuries. (This is not my picture.)

It is difficult to know how big any of the various cultivars of English yew,Taxus baccata, will eventually get, and how long they will take to get that big. Most can get almost as tall as thirty feet. Some can get nearly twice as tall. However, they can take more than a century or several centuries to do so. Old specimens around Europe are significantly older than two thousand years. Slow growth is an advantage for formal hedges that get shorn only annually. English yew prefers regular watering. Partial shade is not a problem.

Irish yew is actually a cultivar of English yew with densely upright growth. The various golden yews have yellowish foliage. Otherwise, most English yews have finely textured dark green foliage on angular stems that resemble those of redwood. Individual leaves are very narrow, and only about half and inch to an inch long. The peeling dark brown bark resembles that of large junipers, but not quite as shaggy. English yew is toxic.

2 thoughts on “English Yew

  1. There are yew trees in the UK which are claimed to be 5000 years old although nobody can prove that as they get hollow in the centre so you can’t count the rings. The oldest are in Shropshire in the west country and in Wales. But we do have old ones here in Suffolk in ancient churchyards. In many cases they are older than the church. After reading your post I cycled out to an ancient yew near here and took a photo, I might feature it in a post one day, it is very impressive. Irish yews aren’t old though, they date from the eighteenth century.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a rare tree here, and most of those that are here are quite old. It is as if they were more popular during the Victorian period and less popular for a few decades afterward, and then suddenly became unavailable.


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