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Taxus baccata
Common yew

Common yew (Taxus baccata) is a poisonous conifer native to most of Europe, from southern Scandinavia to northern Africa. It is easily distinguished from other conifers by having red berries instead of cones. The tree is slow-growing but extremely long-living, with some individuals living up to 5000 years.

Historically, the Common yew’s wood has been used for various artefacts, such as instruments and longbows, but due to the tree’s slow growth, it is no longer of any commercial interest. The tree is tolerant to repeated pruning and therefore highly valued for hedging and topiary purposes in parks and historical gardens. Lately, substances from the species have been tested in the development of cancer treatments.

Common yew is tolerant to shade and is often found in the understorey of forest stands. It is able to live on compressed soils and rocky terrain. The tree grows on most soil types, as long as they are well-drained, but is sensitive to long-lasting periods of poor drainage and frost.

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