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Yew Taxus baccata

The Yew is a medium-sized, evergreen tree commonly found in churchyards - more than 500 churchyards in England and Wales alone contain Yew trees that are at least as old as the church itself. This association with Christian religion (and possibly even older beliefs) and its ability to reach extreme old age have ensured that Yew is now surrounded by many myths. In fact, the dead were sometimes buried beneath Yew trees to 'protect' them. Wild Yew is mainly found on well-drained chalk and limestone soils, so the prevalence of old trees in churchyards in South East and Central England, Wales and the Lake District mirrors this preference.

Conservation status

Common.

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Did you know? One of the oldest Yew trees in the UK is the Fortingall Yew in Scotland, which is estimated at somewhere between 2,000 and 9,000 years old. Ancient Yews such as this tend to have buttressed, hollow or multiple trunks, and fallen boughs, making them a maze of wood beneath the dense foliage.
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