by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 210 views


The yew is widespread. In our latitudes, it grows mainly in shady forests and in the mountains. But it is also often found as an ornamental shrub in gardens, cemeteries and parks.


The yew is an evergreen conifer that can grow to between 2 and 10 meters tall with flat needles. The plant is usually dioecious (dioecious) – there are male and female specimens. They bear inconspicuous flowers early in spring. After pollination, the female develops brown seeds, which are surrounded by a fleshy, red seed coat (aril).

Toxic parts

Both the needles and the seeds of the yew tree are poisonous, especially if you bite them. The red, sweet-tasting seed coat, on the other hand, is non-toxic. The main active ingredients are alkaloids (taxine). They have a strong pharmacological effect.

Possible symptoms

Vomiting and abdominal pain occur 30 minutes to an hour and a half after consumption. Shortly thereafter, diarrhea, dizziness and sometimes a kind of numbness set in. Breathing and pulse speed up first and then slow down. Cardiac arrhythmias, facial pallor and dilated pupils are also evident.

First aid

Drink a lot, preferably water or tea, to dilute the poison. Definitely see a doctor. If larger amounts of poison have been ingested, you should call the emergency doctor on 112.

useful information

The yew played a role as a medicinal plant from the early Middle Ages. It was used for epilepsy, diphtheria and rheumatism as well as skin rashes and scabies. The decoction of yew needles was also considered an effective abortifacient.

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