Fortingall Yew

and so are Yew…

Posted on Updated on

Brendel model of Taxus baccata – female flower, fruit (aril)

So here is the last of my botanical, Valentine’s Day posts. I admit this last post is a bit tenuous and I do hope you will pardon my pun.

Looking back over the Valentine’s posts I’ve realised I’ve perhaps not altogether gotten into the spirit of Valentine’s Day with all my talk of wars, slavery and exploitation and I’m afraid with such a tenuous link I will be unable to remedy that now.

However, did you know that the wood from the yew is very springy making it the wood of choice for longbow makers?  I’m sure, therefore, that Cupid’s bow would have been made from a yew.

Cupid

This springy quality of yews meant that they were in great demand until bows were eventually replaced with guns. Unfortunately, yew is also a very knotty wood resulting in a lot of wastage, consequently the demand for bowstaves led to the demise of the great Yew forests of Western Europe.  Here at the Manchester Museum our archery collection consists of over 4,000 objects.

Yews that manage to avoid the chop have the potential to live for a very long time.   The Fortingall Yew Tree found in the centre of Scotland, is believed to be at the very least 2,000 years old and possibly as old as 5,000 years making it  the oldest organism in Britain, and maybe the world!

PUN WARNING

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Sugar is sweet
,
And so are Yew.

Please note, Yew trees are NOT sweet, in fact they are quite poisonous!