IberiaNature A guide to the natural history of Spain
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Yews in Spain

Yews are extremely slow glowing and as a rule do not form woods. However, unlike northern Europe where most yew woods were felled, northern Spain is still home to a few remarkable patches of yew forest, often in associated with common oak. Elsewhere yews are common as an isolated tree in most mountainous areas of Spain.
Medieval Spain exported much yew wood to Northern Europe which was in demand for boat and longbow manufacture. Iberian yew wood had less knots in it than northern yews because climatic conditions and was highly valued.

A poison from yew was used by the ancient Cantabrians and Celts as a poison to prevent their capture at the hands of enemies. As in much of the world the yew was venerated as a sacred tree and formed part of rituals, no doubt much of which was due to the yew's extreme longetivity. A vestige of this is the common presence of ancient yews growing  in churchyards in Galicia and Asturias. Testament to the once more common presence of yew woods is the plethora of placenames - Tejeda/Tejedal/Teixadal - meaning yew wood.

Yew forest near Puebla de Sanabria in Zamora


Tejo: Spanish

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