Also called 🇬🇧 English yew and yew.

Part of yew  family Taxaceae in 🌲︎ conifer  order Pinales.

Native to 🇪🇺 Europe, northern Africa and western Asia.   🗺 Map by county (🇺🇸 USA-48) (color key).

Uses by native peoples
(Ethnobotany database)
  Gymnosperm database > sections Ethnobotany and Remarks   Its 🪵 wood was used to make ♐︎ archery bows, knife handles and furniture.  The former probably explains why it is often found growing in churchyards in 🇬🇧 🇮🇪 Scotland, Ireland and England.

However, when working with this wood, wear a 😷 mask, because …

All parts of this plant are ☠︎ poisonous,  even the sawdust.  Today, the (yes, toxic) leaves of this plant are used to make the anti-cancer drug Taxol.

Ötzi the Iceman carried a ♐︎ longbow and ⛏ axe-handle made of the 🪵 wood of this plant 🇪🇺 European yew  Taxus baccata. [1]

For more about Ötzi:

Robert the Bruce is said to have planted many yews to replace those he harvested to make ♐︎ longbows prior to the battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

The yew is a 🌲︎ conifer with seed cones that are fleshy and berry-like, and contain only a single scale and seed.

However, conifers are described as:

  1. not enclosing its seeds in any ovary structure ('naked' seeds or gymnosperm ), and
  2. packaging its seeds in cones (apparently a different type of female reproductive structure).

Thus, the yew violates both these rules.  Yet remains categorized as a conifer.


[1]  "Ötzi the Iceman" page "Equipment" sections "Longbow, arrows and quiver" and "Copper axe."  South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology.  .   Accessed .

Learn more about 🇪🇺 European yew Taxus baccata

🔍︎ 🔍︎ images Discover Life Encyclopedia of Life Gymnosperm database Missouri Botanical Garden NRCS PLANTS db Wikipedia