Milliken, W & Bridgewater, S (2004) Flora Celtica: plants and people in Scotland. (2003) Poisonous Plants and Fungi. In some cases people have planted yew trees beside churches. The deadly drink included “slips of yew, silvered in the moon’s eclipse”. November 2004. http://www.bellarmine.edu/faculty/drobinson/EnglishYew.asp 6. Yew trees have established a popular association with old churches in Britain. Wordsworth. Add thereto a tiger's chaudron, For the ingredients of our cauldron.
Several other yews growing by churches have become famous in their own right. Archers used these to devastating effect during the Hundred Years War.
The pH level of the soil can range from acidic to alkaline. Another common name for yew is the "tree of death" because it is highly toxic. People buried yew shoots with the deceased, and used boughs of yew as ‘Palms’ in church at Easter. Tomnahurich in Inverness would also be a likely candidate for an association with yews rather than junipers.
(1993) The Golden Bough: a study in magic and religion. This suggests that it was already a landmark over two thousand years ago.
Yew is in bloom from March to April. Argyll Publishing. The bark of the tree should be protected because it will die if too much of the bark is removed. Compare Richard II: In stiff unwieldy arms against thy crown: The very beadsmen learn to bend their bows Of double-fatal …
They no doubt observed the tree’s qualities of longevity and regeneration. The Celts will also have been familiar with the toxicity of the tree’s needles in particular. slips of yew (4.1.27) The yew tree was planted frequently in graveyards and the wood is poisonous; thus it has a twofold association with death.
The arils are the red, fleshy fruit that grows on the tree. Compare Richard II: In stiff unwieldy arms against thy crown:
He used a bow made from yew to win the hand of Maid Marion and married her under a yew tree. Yew is an important part of many habitats. Macbeth Plot Summary (Acts 1 and 2)
The themes of death and resurrection continued into the Christian era. Even so Clan Fraser adopted a sprig of yew as their clan badge. Another version suggests his wife had been travelling with him and gave birth at Fortingall.
Estimates suggest the Fortingall yew in Glen Lyon could be anything from over two thousand to nine thousand years old. The height of this plant can reach 49 feet and the width can reach 32 feet. Oxford University Press: Oxford. Drooping branches of old yew trees can root and form new trunks where they touch the ground.
The yew’s toxicity has somewhat limited its practical uses to humans, though a homoeopathic tincture is made of young shoots. During dry summer months, yew should be regularly watered.
Yew trees have established a popular association with old churches in Britain. Mabey, R. (1996) Flora Britannica. (2.4.60)
Gall of goat, and slips of yew (Gall is bile, slip of yew means a cutting from a yew tree) Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse, Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips, Finger of birth-strangled babe Ditch-deliver’d by a drab, (Drab = whore – these lines mean the baby was … Compare also Twelfth Night: I am slain by a fair cruel maid. Macbeth Plot Summary (Acts 3, 4 and 5)
Gaelic place names can often tell us about the past distribution of different tree species.
For the first year, yew should be given a nutrient rich liquid feed every three weeks (3).
“Care Guide for English Yew (Taxus Baccata).” Crown Topiary: English Sculpture. Macbeth Character Introduction, Soliloquy Analysis: If it were done when 'tis done (1.7.1-29)
http://www.rfs.org.uk/learning/Yew 5. This is because these words can also refer to juniper, which was sometimes known as mountain yew. Robin hood was also said to be buried under a yew (7).From the Community Voice"Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,Witches' mummy, maw and gulfOf the ravined salt-sea shark,Root of hemlock digged i' th' dark,Liver of blaspheming Jew,Gall of goat and slips of yewSlivered in the moon’s eclipse,Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips,Finger of birth-strangled babeDitch-delivered by a drab,Make the gruel thick and slab.Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,For the ingredients of our cauldron." Shakespeare was familiar with these qualities when he had Macbeth concoct a poisonous brew.
The very hard, close-grained wood was used in furniture making. http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Taxus+baccata 2. Mercat Press. My shroud of white, stuck all with yew. The yew tree was planted frequently in graveyards and the wood is poisonous; thus it has a twofold association with death.
Of double-fatal yew against thy state. “Discovery.” Ch.inperial.ac.uk. It is also useful for birds because it provides shelter and nesting (4).Culinary and Medicinal UsesTaxane is derived from the tree, it is used in products like taxol which is a cancer medication (1). Yew has always been popular in England, and the European yew tree is now nearly extinct because of the extensive use of weapons making from the Hundred Year's War.
The very beadsmen learn to bend their bows
At the approximate centre of Scotland grows what is Scotland’s, and possibly Europe’s, oldest tree.
The Scots too used yew longbows and Robert the Bruce ordered bows to be made from the sacred yews at Ardchattan Priory in Argyll. It should be grown in full sunlight, partial sunlight, or partial shade. The yew tree is another of our native trees which the Druids held sacred in pre-Christian times. Evergreen tree, English yew, European yew, Yew grows best in zones 5-7. Trees for Life is a registered Scottish charity – number SC021303. Shakespeare used this toxic nature of yew in his writings of Macbeth and Hamlet. This island, along with Kilneuair (Church of the Yew) are religious and spiritual places, so it is almost certain that the names are a reflection of such places’ affinity with yew trees. Fife H. (1994) Warriors and Guardians: native highland trees. The deadly drink included “slips of yew, silvered in the moon’s eclipse”. Today a large cemetery remains at the foot of this hill. Some interpretations suggest that Pilate’s father was on a diplomatic mission to a Pictish King. Darwin, T. (1996) The Scots Herbal: the plant lore of Scotland. According to Richard Mabey in his Flora Britannica “… no other type of ancient tree occurs so frequently inside church grounds …”. Though the Romans did not invade Britain until 43 AD, several expeditions had visited from 55 BC onwards. Yew’s Gaelic name is iubhair or euair. December 17, 2013. http://www.conifers.org/ta/Taxus_baccata.php, Asian American Resource and Cultural Center, Rafael Cintrón Ortiz Latino Cultural Center, UIC Heritage Garden has received generous support from The UIC Sustainability Fee, The USDA Forest Service International Programs, and the UIC Office of Diversity, © All Rights Reserved/ UIC Heritage Garden, http://www.ch.ic.ac.uk/local/projects/a_abowath/Discovery.html. A popular legend relates how Pontius Pilate was born under this tree or played as a child in its branches. http://www.ch.ic.ac.uk/local/projects/a_abowath/Discovery.html7. SC143304, with registered offices at The Park, Findhorn Bay, Forres, Moray, IV36 3TH. Our vision is of a revitalised wild forest in the Highlands of Scotland, providing space for wildlife to flourish and communities to thrive.
Gall of goat and slips of yew Slivered in the moon’s eclipse, Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips, Finger of birth-strangled babe Ditch-delivered by a drab, Make the gruel thick and slab. The berry flesh has been used by herbalists to treat a variety of ailments including cystitis, headache and neuralgia. © 2020. http://www.kew.org/plants-fungi/Taxus-baccata.htm 3.
This relationship between places of worship and a single tree species is unique in the Western world. Here's the quote: "Liver of blaspheming Jew, Gall of goat and slips of yew Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse, Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips, Finger of birth-strangled babe" Is that some kind of witch ingredient or do they mean the Turkic people of Russia, the Tatars? Thorsons: London. Shakespeare's Sources for Macbeth
It responds well to trimming and pruning. Cooper, M.R., Johnson, A.W. Macbeth Q & A
It is sweet and often eaten by birds, but the black seeds the arils hold are poisonous (2).Significance to Cultural CommunitiesWood from the Taxus Baccata was popularly used during the Middle Ages to make longbows for war.