Largest yew forest in Europe to be protected

June 23rd, 2008 | by nick |

Unlike northern Europe where most yew woods were felled, northern Spain is still home to a few remarkable patches of yew forest, the biggest of which (and the largest yew forest in Europe), is in the Sierra de Sueve in Asturias. After years of campaigns, it is now finally to be protected. The wood covers 80 hectares and is home to a remarkable 8,000 yew trees, many of which are more than 1000 years old. La Crónica Verde

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 longevity. 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.

See also Yews in Spain

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