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Yew - Taxus baccata

Yew - Taxus baccata

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 Acidic, Sandy, Peaty Acidic, Sandy, Peaty
 Alkaline, Chalky, Calcareous Alkaline, Chalky, Calcareous
 Light Sand Light Sand
 Neutral Neutral
Evergreen Evergreen
Growth Rate: Slow Growth Rate: Slow
Height: Medium Height: Medium
Low Maintenance Low Maintenance
Native Native
RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM) RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM)
Use: Evergreen Hedging Use: Evergreen Hedging
Use: Farm Woodland Use: Farm Woodland
Use: Formal Use: Formal

Characteristics
Plant Protection
Planting & Care
Long Description 5
Images (5)
Questions (1)
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RHS Award of Garden Merit

One of only three native British conifers, yew is often seen in woodlands and gardens where its blackish-green foliage and shaggy red-brown bark make it the most identifiable of trees. With dark, narrow leaves and a very dense habit of growth, it makes an ideal hedge (arguably the best), is often used for topiary and has good wildlife value. Yews are probably the longest-lived European tree; estimates put some specimens at over 2,000 years old.

Site and soil

Yew does well on all but the very wettest of soils. It prefers well-drained soil, either acid sands or chalk and is good on exposed coastal sites. It can cope with dense shade and is tolerant of pollution.

Height and spread

Below are the approximate stages of growth, assuming sited in suitable conditions for this species;

After 10 years: 2.5m x 1m
After 20 years: 5m x 1.5m

Leaf and bark

The leaves are very narrow, a dark blackish-brown, paler on the undersides. The bark is dark brown, peeling in strips to reveal reddish patches beneath. The leaves, wood and bark are poisonous.

Flower, seed and fruit

Yew trees are dioecious, that is both male and female flowers are borne on separate trees. Both open in March, the males larger, to 0.6cm, and yellow, the females green and tiny. Male trees shed copious amounts of pollen as the flowers mature. The female flowers ripen to form red, berry-like fruits called arils, enclosing a single seed. The seed is poisonous, although the flesh of the aril is not. When bought in quantity there is a good chance that both sexes will be represented.

Uses

Specimen tree, woodland, parkland, topiary and hedging. Although yew has a reputation for being slow-growing, it is faster when young and hedges planted in well-prepared ground should make 30-40cm of growth a year. Large topiary specimens are used to line avenues in grand houses, and yew hedges were traditionally used as a backdrop to large herbaceous borders.

Yew was famously used to make English longbows, and it is used to make furniture and in cabinet making. Yews have a strong association with churchyards, where it has been suggested that they were planted to protect and purify the dead, but many trees are older than the churches themselves and they are thought to have been sacred to the earlier Druidic religion. Yew leaves are collected commercially to make the drug Tamoxifen which is used to treat breast cancer.

Wildlife

Yew provides nesting sites and shelter for a variety of birds. Insects shelter in the peeling bark, and Tree- creepers are often to be seen searching them out. Birds like thrushes, fieldfares and waxwings feed on the fleshy arils, whilst others, like the Blue Tit, eat the seeds. Yews tend to become hollow with great age and insects, birds and small mammals colonise the opening for shelter and food.

The main reasons for buying protection is to protect the plants against:

  • Pests
  • Spraying
  • Strimming

Pests

When it comes to deciding what protection to choose the golen rule of thumb is to choose the product dependent on which pest you are protecting against. The below will help you in deciding what height of protection you will need.

Vole Rabbit Hare Roe Deer/Muntjac Fallow Deer
Vole, Mice
20cm
Rabbit
60cm
Hare
75cm
Roe Deer/Muntjac
1.20m
Fallow Deer
1.50m

 Download our full protection range as a printable PDF document.

Protection Options

Pest & Minimum Protection Height Protection Type
Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required
Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.
Vole
Vole, Mice
20cm
Vole Guard*
20cm
*Not recommended for this species
None required
Pest & Minimum Protection Height Protection Type
Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required
Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.
Sorted by price; lowest to highest
Rabbit
Rabbit
60cm
Spiral Guard*
60cm x 38mm, 60cm x 50mm
*Not recommended for this species
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs or 14-16lbs
Tubex Easywrap*
60cm x 50-65mm
*Not recommended for this species
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs or 14-16lbs
Mesh Guard with Spray Shield
60cm x 130mm
2 x Bamboo Canes
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs or 14-16lbs
Tubex Fruitwrap*
60cm x 65-80mm
*Not recommended for this species
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs or 14-16lbs
Tubex Ecostart*
60cm x 57-73cm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Tree Shelter*
60cm x 73-105mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Shelterguard Mesh Tube*
60cm x 80-110mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Treeguard Mesh Tube*
60cm x 80-110mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Shrub Shelter
60cm x 130-160mm, 60cm x 144-200mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Shrub Shelterguard Mesh Tube
60cm x 130-160mm, 60cm x 170-200mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Tubex Treeguard Mesh Tube for Shrubs
60cm x 130-160mm, 60cm x 170-200mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
75cm x 25mm, 75cm x 32mm
Pest & Minimum Protection Height Protection Type
Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required
Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.
Sorted by price; lowest to highest
Hare
Hare
75cm
Tubex Easywrap*
75cm x 50-65mm
*Not recommended for this species
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs, 14-16lbs or 1.20m x 20-22lbs
Spiral Guard*
75cm x 50mm
*Not recommended for this species
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs, 14-16lbs or 1.20m x 20-22lbs
Tubex Fruitwrap*
75cm x 65-80mm
*Not recommended for this species
Bamboo Cane
90cm x 9-11lbs, 12-14lbs, 14-16lbs or 1.20m x 20-22lbs
Tubex Ecostart*
75cm x 57-73mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Tubex Tree Shelter*
75cm x 73-105mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Tubex Combitube*
75cm x 73-105mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Tubex Shelterguard Mesh Tube*
90cm x 80-110mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Tubex Treeguard Mesh Tube*
75cm x 80-110mm, 90cm x 80-110mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Tubex Shrub Shelter
75cm x 130-160mm, 75cm x 144-200mm
Square Sawn Tree Stake
90cm x 25mm, 90cm x 32mm
Pest & Minimum Protection Height Protection Type
Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required
Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.
Sorted by price; lowest to highest
Roe Deer/Muntjac
Roe Deer/Muntjac
1.20m
Tubex Tree Shelter*
1.20m x 73-105mm, 1.20m x 80-120mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.20m x 32mm, 1.35m x 32mm
Tubex Combitube*
1.20m x 73-105mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.20m x 32mm, 1.35m x 32mm
Tubex Shelterguard Mesh Tube*
1.20m x 80-110mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.20m x 32mm, 1.35m x 32mm
Tubex Treeguard Mesh Tube*
1.20m x 80-110mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.20m x 32mm, 1.35m x 32mm
Galvanised Mesh Tree Guard*
1.20m x 300mm
*Not recommended for this species
Machine Rounded Tree Stake
1.20m x 50mm, 1.50m x 50mm
Pest & Minimum Protection Height Protection Type
Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required
Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.
Sorted by price; lowest to highest
Fallow DeerFallow Deer
1.50m
Tubex Tree Shelter*
1.50m x 80-120mm, 1.80m x 80-120mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.50m x 32mm, 1.80m x 32mm
Tubex Combitube*
1.50m x 80-120mm, 1.80m x 80-120mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.50m x 32mm, 1.80m x 32mm
Tubex Shelterguard Mesh Tube*
1.50m x 80-110mm, 1.80m x 80-110mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.50m x 32mm, 1.80m x 32mm
Tubex Treeguard Mesh Tube*
1.50m x 80-110mm, 1.80m x 80-110mm
*Not recommended for this species
Square Sawn Tree Stake
1.50m x 32mm, 1.80m x 32mm
Galvanised Mesh Tree Guard*
1.80m x 300mm, 1.80m x 600mm
*Not recommended for this species
Machine Rounded Tree Stake
1.80m x 60mm

Spraying

Tubex tree shelters offer the benefit of not only protecting against animal damage, they also ensure that herbicides do not come into contact with the plants during spraying.

The main reason for spraying is weed control, however, there are other options available to suppress weeds. Our accessories section includes weed control matting, fertilisers & wildflower seed.

Strimming

Young plants should be protected from damage caused when strimming. To protect plants solely for strimming, our strimmer guards are the ideal product.

Planting

Can be grown on to a tree or can be planted as a formal hedge.

We recommend planting in a straight line,4 plants per metre.

Follow this link to our 'Planting Advice' page for more detailed information on how to plant your plants.

Rootgrow

We would often advise that you consider using 'Rootgrow' for your bare root plants. Rootgrow simply speeds up an existing natural process. The fungi contained in Rootgrow will begin to colonise the plant or tree roots, extending the root system into the surrounding soil via an extensive network of fungal filaments. 

The benefit of Rootgrowis that it enhances a plants root system so a newly planted plant:

  • Finds more food, finds more water.

  • Needs less fertiliser.

  • Establishes quicker and reduces failure rates (which can be improved even further when used in conjunction with Broadleaf P4)

  • Has increased tolerance to drought and difficult soil conditions

We also have a handy Welfare Guide that includes information on how to check your plants on arrival, how to plant them and also how to look after them. This is sent out with each delivery of bare root plants, but it can be downloaded from our advice pages.

Aftercare

Hedges and topiary should be trimmed once a year in summer. Older specimens or hedging which has lost its shape can be hard-pruned in late winter, but it is safest to cut back half the plant one year, wait for re-growth, then finish cutting back the following year. Ensure that heavily pruned plants are well fed and watered after pruning.

Readily available advice

For additional information on planting and maintaining your plants, please see our advice pages.

We provide extensive articles, tips, and even tutorial videos, ideal for beginners and those with previous planting experience.

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Hi, we are looking at planting a yew hedge around the fence in our drive to provide more privacy etc. How far apart should these bare root plants be planted ? Thanks

We recommend 4 to the metre, further information can be found on the product page under the "Planting and Care" tab

Hope that helps, regards the Trees and Hedging Team

 

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