Yew-FOR Erasmus+project

Collaborative dictionary of mythological plants



Enara Garcia,Maria Zuazo,Ane Granja,Pasquale Paco Inserra, Eva Vertoudaki

Scientific name:TAXUS BACCATA





Portuguese teixo, Galician teixo and Romanian tisă,Russian tiss , Slovakiantis, Slovenian tisa, Bosnian tisa (тиса). In Albanian it is named tis.

Morphological description

It is a small to medium-sized evergreen tree, growing 10–20 metres tall, with a trunk up to 2 metres diameter. The bark is thin, scaly brown, coming off in small flakes aligned with the stem. The leaves are flat, dark green, 1–4 centimetres long and 2–3 millimetres broad, arranged spirally on the stem, but with the leaf bases twisted to align the leaves in two flat rows either side of the stem, except on erect leading shoots where the spiral arrangement is more obvious.


In the ancient Celtic world, the yew tree had extraordinary importance; a passage by Caesar narrates that Catuvolcus, chief of the Eburones poisoned himself with yew rather than submit to Rome . Similarly, Florus notes that when the Cantabrians were under siege by the legate Gaius Furnius in 22 BC, most of them took their lives either by the sword, by fire, or by a poison extracted ex arboribus taxeis, that is, from the yew tree . In a similar way, Orosius notes that when the Astures were besieged at Mons Medullius, they preferred to die by their own swords or by the yew tree poison rather than surrender. In Wales and England, yew's wood was used in making expensive longbows, as it' s a flexible material.

During the Medieval Period, hunters used to dip their arrows in yew's poison.It was one of the materials used in lute construction.

In 1021, Avicenna introduced the medicinal use of T. baccata for phytotherapy.He named this herbal drug "Zarnab" and used it as a cardiac remedyIn the Central Himalayas, the plant is used as a treatment for breast and ovarian cancer.


Although in past centuries Yew has been 'persecuted' in much of Europe and it had become rare in many areas, with the changes in woodland management and use since the nineteenth century the species has made a remarkable come-back and is not in danger of extinction in the wild.The Yew have a little bit of poison in Its fruits.


The Erinyes (a yew branch was one of their attributes, used to drip purifying drops of water and as a flaming torch).

THE ERINYES were three netherworld goddesses who avenged crimes against the natural order.


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Symbolic Meanings of the Yew

  • Power
  • Honor
  • Silence
  • Mystery
  • Illusion
  • Victory
  • Mystery
  • Worship
  • Strength
  • Sanctity
  • Longevity
  • Leadership
  • Introspection


Ormiston Yew Tree, East Lothian, Scotland