Yews grow well almost anywhere but grow best on chalky soils; they resist pollution and tolerate shade very well.
The foliage and bark is poisonous to humans as well as most grazing animals, especially when cut.
The male trees produce small yellow flowers; the female trees produce tiny green flowers and the bright red berries which contrast beautifully with the dark foliage. The berries bear the unfortunate name of ‘blood snot’ or ‘snot gobbles’ and if a berry is squeezed the juice is red and sticky like mucous.
- In the middle ages the close-grained wood of the yew was highly prized for the making of Long Bows, The wood has amazing elastic properties as a change occurs in the heart wood, giving the tree and the bow strength, as well as a ruddy-brown colour
- The wood is easily polished and is used in the production of fine furniture
- The bark is used in the production of medicinal drugs for chemotherapy for breast and bowel cancer
- Musical instruments