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Taxus baccata is a conifer native to western, central and southern Europe, northwest Africa, northern Iran and southwest Asia. It is the tree originally known as yew, though with other related trees becoming known, it may now be known as common yew, English yew, or European yew.
It is a small to medium-sized evergreen tree, growing 10–20 metres (33–66 ft) (exceptionally up to 28 metres (92 ft)) tall, with a trunk up to 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) (exceptionally 4 metres (13 ft)) in diameter. The bark is thin, scaly brown, coming off in small flakes aligned with the stem. The leaves are flat, dark green, 1–4 centimetres (0.39–1.57 in) long and 2–3 millimetres (0.079–0.118 in) broad, arranged spirally on the stem, but with the leaf bases twisted to align the leaves in two flat rows either side of the stem, except on erect leading shoots where the spiral arrangement is more obvious. The leaves are poisonous.
The seed cones are modified, each cone containing a single seed, which is 4–7 millimetres (0.16–0.28 in) long, and partly surrounded by a fleshy scale which develops into a soft, bright red berry-like structure called an aril. The aril is 8–15 millimetres (0.31–0.59 in) long and wide and open at the end. The arils mature 6 to 9 months after pollination, and with the seed contained, are eaten by thrushes, waxwings and other birds, which disperse the hard seeds undamaged in their droppings. Maturation of the arils is spread over 2 to 3 months, increasing the chances of successful seed dispersal. The seeds themselves are poisonous and bitter, but are opened and eaten by some bird species including hawfinches, greenfinches and great tits. The aril is not poisonous, it is gelatinous and very sweet tasting. The male cones are globose, 3–6 millimetres (0.12–0.24 in) in diameter, and shed their pollen in early spring. The yew is mostly dioecious, but occasional individuals can be variably monoecious, or change sex with time.
Pretty Wild Seeds are registered with the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) under number 7529, so you can have confidence in both our products and advice. Although our products are listed in weights and acres, we can supply in additional quantities upon enquiry so if you need a larger supply, please don't hesitate to give us a call.
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The Taxus Baccata 'Yew Tree' Seeds is shown in Bush, Tree & Shrubs.
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Common yew is a conifer usually planted as part of a hedge, and is often set up at the beginning of fall, but it can also be planted until March or April as long as it doesn’t freeze. As a standalone, this tree can grow quite large, so check upon planting that it has enough space to spread out.
Common yew loves locations with a rather high exposure to sunlight, but does well in light shade, too. Yew likes well drained soil.
When part of a hedge, keep a distance of 32 inches (80 cm) between yew plants. After having planted your yew, watering is needed on a regular basis for 2 years to facilitate root development and settling in.
Pruning; Hedge grown from Yew. Yew is a tree that loves pruning and can even be shaped to whim as topiary. If not pruned, your common Yew can grow over 65 feet (20 meters) tall for the tallest species. For yew hedges, select the pruning height you are comfortable with as well as the thickness.
Pruning the yew is best at the end of summer or at the beginning of spring. A single heavy pruning end of August is enough to keep growth under control.
Spring pruning is usually associated to rising sap and tends to accelerate the yew’s growth. Since yew is a rather slow-growing tree, this solution is often preferred when starting the hedge off.
Yew is one of the few trees that supports hat-racking. This practice is more harmful than proper regular pruning, but for some species it can help shrink a hedge that has grown too large.
Watering; Yew isn’t a very demanding tree in terms of watering, but does deserve some attention, especially at the beginning. Water regularly after planting for the first 2 years. Water after that in case of prolonged dry spell and only if you feel your yew tree has trouble coping.
Diseases and parasites; Yew is a tree that resists most diseases and fungus quite well, and its lifespan can exceed several hundreds of years.
If a few branches turn brown and die off, it’s best to eliminate them and burn the waste every time.
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