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Academic & Professional Books  Botany  Vascular Plants  Trees & Shrubs


By: Fred Hageneder(Author)
208 pages, 89 colour & 21 b/w photos and illustrations
Publisher: Reaktion Books
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  • Yew ISBN: 9781789147216 Paperback Apr 2023 In stock
  • Yew ISBN: 9781780231891 Hardback Oct 2013 Out of Print #206458
Selected version: £15.95
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About this book

Europe’s most ancient species of tree, the yew has many unique characteristics: it is a ‘conifer’ without resin or cones, and though it has an extraordinarily low rate of photosynthesis, it can grow where other plants wither and die. It was in the Palaeolithic Era that humans were first struck by the yew’s regenerative powers and began to associate it with concepts of life, death, the afterlife and eternity. Yew trees can be found at the sacred sites of Native Americans and Buddhists, and Shinto shrines in Japan, as well as in Christian churchyards, where they became a symbol of the Resurrection.

Now available in paperback, this richly illustrated cultural and natural history includes the latest scientific discoveries about a most remarkable tree.

Customer Reviews


Fred Hageneder is the author of many books on the natural and cultural history of trees. He lives in South Wales at the edge of the Black Mountains.

By: Fred Hageneder(Author)
208 pages, 89 colour & 21 b/w photos and illustrations
Publisher: Reaktion Books
Media reviews

"This book is a real treasure trove of information about why the British yew is so important to nature, as well as socially, politically and culturally. Hageneder divulges the latest scientific discoveries about this fascinating and longest-lived of our country's trees some individuals are estimated to be over 3,000 years old and discusses its regenerative powers."
BBC Wildlife Magazine

"It is tempting to say that Fred Hageneder knows all there is to know about this species, but what he knows best of all is that there is still much to learn about the yew. It is that air of mystery that gives this well-paced and beautifully illustrated book its fascination."

"What a marvellous book this is. The production quality is high. Yew trees are so visually stunning that its a wonder anyone ever photographs anything else [...] any work which communicates the mystery and fascination of these old trees is to be welcomed, and Hageneders book is a beautiful introduction to the field."
Time & Mind

"[...] With many colour pictures and well-written text this book is a joy to read and is guaranteed to contain things you didn't know before."
– Peter Thomas, The BES Bulletin 45(2), June 2014

"Yew is the most compact, knowledgeable and enjoyable book that I have ever come across on our (humankind's) long relationship with these wonderful long-lived trees. No matter how much you already know about yews there will be many new nuggets of information within that will enthral, entice and educate."
– Dr Peter Thomas, Keele University, UK

"Fred Hageneder's book opened my eyes on how interesting human history can be, seen from the viewpoint of a tree."
– Dr. Fabrizio Frascaroli, University of Zurich

"If there is one tree that has stood still, witnessing the human civilization unfold, that is yew. Fred Hageneder's Yew is a kaleidoscope that elegantly reveals the multifaceted and colourful nature of this marvellous tree – right from its microscopic anatomy, its geographical distribution and its historical legacy all the way through to its artistic expression, its sacredness and its conservation status. Delightfully illustrated and meticulously referenced, Yew is a must-have for everyone inspired by this magnificent tree."
– Dr Shonil Bhagwat, The Open University and University of Oxford, UK

"Yew presents the history of this tree in a clear and enthralling way as well as exemplary from the scientific point of view. It will contribute to make yew, a species of great scientific importance, known not only to experts but to a greater public. Yew is considered essential for the study on the evolution of gymnospermae; it is regarded with great interest in modern medicine for its practical utility; it has an extraordinary cultural appeal because, more than other species, yew accompanied human events since prehistory. Nevertheless, yew trees are at risk of extinction in a number of countries. Hageneder's work can contribute to their conservation and I wish the book the success it deserves."
– Bartolomeo Schirone, Professor of Dendrology and Silviculture, University of Tuscia, Italy

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