Taxus baccata (English Yew)

Yew

Availability

Bareroot from November to April

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Trees & Hedging

TreesandHedging.co.uk
If your preference is to buy online, you can purchase these plants in cell grown form from our webshop.

Non-trade pricing


Price £ each (ex. VAT)
Height Age 1+ 25+ 100+ 500+ 1000+
30-40cm
2+2 3.09 2.00 1.79 1.70 1.55
40-60cm
2+2 3.45 2.24 2.00 1.90 1.73

Trade / wholesale enquiries

Discounted trade / wholesale prices are available upon request.
Please contact the office for a quotation or a trade price list.

Minimum order values
Please note that there is a minimum order value of £50.00 + VAT, excluding delivery, for existing customers and £75.00 + VAT, excluding delivery, for new customers. Orders under those values can be placed via Trees & Hedging, our online webshop.

Delivery

Delivery to UK mainland is included for stock orders over £750 + VAT (subject to postcode surcharges). For full details on delivery, please view our delivery page.

Description

One of only three native British conifers, yew is often seen in woodlands and gardens where its blackish-green foliage and shaggy red-brown bark make it the most identifiable of trees. With dark, narrow leaves and a very dense habit of growth, it makes an ideal hedge (arguably the best), is often used for topiary and has good wildlife value. Yews are probably the longest-lived European tree; estimates put some specimens at over 2,000 years old.

Site and soil

Yew does well on all but the very wettest of soils. It prefers well-drained soil, either acid sands or chalk and is good on exposed coastal sites. It can cope with dense shade and is tolerant of pollution.

Height and spread

After 10 years: 2.5m x 1m
After 20 years: 5m x 1.5m

Leaf and bark

The leaves are very narrow, a dark blackish-brown, paler on the undersides. The bark is dark brown, peeling in strips to reveal reddish patches beneath. The leaves, wood and bark are poisonous.

Flower, seed and fruit

Yew trees are dioecious, that is male and female flowers are borne on separate trees. Both open in March, the males larger, to 0.6cm, and yellow, the females green and tiny. Male trees shed copious amounts of pollen as the flowers mature. The female flowers ripen to form red, berry-like fruits called arils, enclosing a single seed. The seed is poisonous, although the flesh of the aril is not. When bought in quantity there is a good chance both sexes will be represented.

Uses

Specimen tree, woodland, parkland, topiary and hedging. Although yew has a reputation for being slow-growing, it is faster when young and hedges planted in well-prepared ground should make 30-40cm of growth a year. Large topiary specimens are used to line avenues in grand houses, and yew hedges were traditionally used as a backdrop to large herbaceous borders.

Yew was famously used to make English longbows, and it is used to make furniture and in cabinet making. Yews have a strong association with churchyards, where it has been suggested that they were planted to protect and purify the dead, but many trees are older than the churches themselves and they are thought to have been sacred to the earlier Druidic religion. Yew leaves are collected commercially to make the drug Tamoxifen which is used to treat breast cancer.

Wildlife

Yew provides nesting sites and shelter for a variety of birds. Insects shelter in the peeling bark, and Tree- creepers are often to be seen searching them out. Birds like thrushes, fieldfares and waxwings feed on the fleshy arils, whilst others, like the Blue Tit, eat the seeds. Yews tend to become hollow with great age and insects, birds and small mammals colonise the opening for shelter and food.

Pruning

Hedges and topiary should be trimmed once a year in summer. Older specimens or hedging which has lost its shape can be hard-pruned in late winter, but it is safest to cut back half the plant one year, wait for re-growth, then finish cutting back the following year. Ensure that heavily pruned plants are well fed and watered after pruning.