The leaves are narrow
and flat, 10-30 mm long, and blunt at the tip, except for a small point
(mucro). They are bright green above,
paler below with a prominent midrib
on both sides, and have a very short leaf-stalk.
Yew is an evergreen
tree up to 20 m high with a round crown and spreading branches in
the wild, with a massive but much divided trunk, with a bark flaking
off to leave reddish patches. It is native in woods and scrub and
grows mainly on lime-rich soils and rocks, but also is widely planted
for ornament and hedges.
Male and female
flowers are usually borne on different trees (dioecious)
and appear in February and March.
The male flowers
are in small cones which release clouds
of pollen. The females are solitary or in pairs at the base of a leaf.
The female flowers
develop into fruits with red flesh surrounding a single seed.
The bark, cut
foliage and the seeds (but not the red flesh) are POISONOUS.
The form often
planted in churchyards, with upright branches forming a tight, easily
clipped bush, is commonly called Irish Yew.
of massive churchyard yews show that some may be over 4000 years