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Featured Plant

 

Taxus

 

Yews are slow-growing and can ultimately reach heights up to 130 feet, with trunk diameters up to 12 feet. Unlike most other coniferous plants, yews can produce new shoots from bare wood. They can be very long-lived, with several living specimens in Europe estimated to be about 3,000 years old. Despite their potential longevity, they require well-drained soil, and will die prematurely if the soil around their roots remains saturated.

 

All yews contain highly poisonous alkaloids in all parts except the arils, which are edible and sweet. Birds can eat the arils with the seed intact because their digestive systems cannot break down the seed coat to release the poisons. However, humans and most domesticated animals like cattle and horses can die from eating yew seeds or foliage. Deer are able to break down the poisons and will eat yew foliage freely.

 

English yew, Taxus baccata.

 

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