Taxus baccata is the scientific name for the common yew, a species of evergreen tree native to Europe, North Africa, and southwest Asia. It belongs to the family Taxaceae and is known for its dense, dark green foliage and red, berry-like fruits.
Here are some key features and facts about Taxus baccata:
Appearance: The common yew is a slow-growing tree that can reach a height of 20-60 feet (6-18 meters) and has a spreading, conical or columnar shape. Its dark green, needle-like leaves are arranged spirally along the stems.
Bark: The bark of the yew tree is reddish-brown in colour and becomes rough and scaly as the tree ages.
Reproduction: Taxus baccata is dioecious, meaning individual trees are either male or female. The female trees produce small, fleshy, bright red berries known as arils, which contain the toxic seed. The arils are the only part of the tree that is not poisonous.
Toxicity: While the berries are attractive to birds, mammals, and some insects, the seeds within them are highly toxic to humans and many animals. In fact, nearly all parts of the yew tree, including the leaves, bark, and seeds, contain toxic compounds called taxines. Therefore, caution should be exercised when dealing with yew trees, and ingestion of any part of the plant should be avoided.