yew

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yew,

name for evergreen trees or shrubs of the genus Taxus, somewhat similar to hemlock but bearing red berrylike fruits instead of true cones. Of somber appearance, with dark green leaves, the yew since antiquity has been associated with death and funeral rites. The English yew (T. baccata) was used for the longbows of English archers. The wood of several yews is still employed in making bows and for cabinetwork. In North America the most common species is a low, spreading shrub (T. canadensis), called also ground hemlock, which is native to Canada and to the NW United States. The most commonly cultivated yews in the E United States are varieties of the Japanese yew, T. cuspidata. Yews are often trimmed into hedges. Several related evergreen species are also cultivated for ornament, e.g., the plum-yews, of the Asian genus Cephalotaxus. Most parts of the yew plant are poisonous. There is little or no record of medicinal use by Native Americans. However, an important anticancer drug, taxol (effective against ovarian and possibly other cancers), occurs in the Pacific yew (T. brevifolia), the English yew, and others. Taxol prevents breakdown of cell microtubules, consequently preventing cell division. Yew is classified in the division PinophytaPinophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called gymnosperms. The gymnosperms, a group that includes the pine, have stems, roots and leaves, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, class Pinopsida, order Coniferales, family Taxaceae.

yew

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(botany)
A genus of evergreen trees and shrubs, Taxus, with the fruit, an aril, containing a single seed surrounded by a scarlet, fleshy, cuplike envelope; the leaves are flat and acicular.

yew

traditionally planted in churchyards; symbol of deathlessness. [Br. Legend: Brewer Dictionary, 1171]

yew

tree symbolizes grief. [Flower Symbolism: Flora Symbolica, 178]

yew

symbol of immortality; hence, planted in churchyards and near Druid temples. [Br. Legend: Brewer Dictionary, 967]
See: Trees

yew

1. any coniferous tree of the genus Taxus, of the Old World and North America, esp T. baccata, having flattened needle-like leaves, fine-grained elastic wood, and solitary seeds with a red waxy aril resembling berries: family Taxaceae
2. the wood of any of these trees, used to make bows for archery
3. Archery a bow made of yew
References in periodicals archive ?
A VILLAGE in Mid Wales is believed to have Europe's oldest tree - a yew believed to be more than 5,000 years old.
Now the Church in Wales is joining forces with two organisations during Cherishing Churchyards Week (June 7-15) - raising awareness of yews and encouraging their care and management.
Yews provide food and shelter for many birds and other wildlife.
Processes and activities including the changing landscape of buildings and infrastructure, excessive use of yews for therapeutic purposes and for livestock, plus losses from fire and logging have significantly contributed to the current worrying situation.
HIYA yews lot, here's me and our Wayne on our hols again an' we thought yewd like to see the piccies.
A total of 32,000 young English yews were planted on an area of 1,735 square metres near the John Dobson-designed mansion, and the couple invited pupils from all 142 of the county's first schools to help.
But we don't clip for the drugs we clip to keep the shape of yews as they are.
Stewart Cameron from Fredericton have fostered cultivation of the Eastern Yew and will bring their knowledge and expertise to the North, along with 12,000 Yews for research purposes.
These outstanding gardens have 100 yews which began life back in the 17th century, planted by John Fetherston, a barrister who owned the house at that time.
Twelve other yews were planted just below it and it came to represent the Sermon on the Mount.
That was the aim of the Conservation Foundation when it launched Yews For The Millennium - a project celebrated on Stamp 29, `Yews For The Millennium' (2nd class).
In her book, "Wood," Jane Struthers writes that opinion is divided on just why yews are associated with churchyards.