The Yew Tree & Yew Berry

The Yew Tree & Yew BerryThe Yew Tree & Yew Berry:
Such an amazing tree; with so much history and folklore attached to it. While the berry, or aril, can be eaten (and is delicious) the seed inside is fatal. The arils/needles/tree contains a chemical called taxine, used for chemo drugs.

It was often the poision of choice from Celtic Times right up to Victorian Times. Just a small quantity of needles or seed was ground into powder and put into food – shortly afterward it tended to induce heart attack. Before the days of medical testing – it was very hard to prove it wasn’t just a natural heart attack.

It is said some of the Celtic warriors would carry seed with them in case they were captured by the enemy, and risked giving away their king’s secrets through torture.