The North American Yew is, to my sense of smell, like many other evergreen shrubs or trees – it has a wonderful odor when the sun warms its needles. There is nothing better than taking a walk through groups or a forest of evergreens on a hot day and inhaling the crisp smell of the needles!
It is commonly used as a border shrub but if the species grows tall and straight, the trees can form a long and elegant row along a driveway or road.
Over the ages, the Yew has had mystical symbolism. In ancient Rome and Greece branches of Yew were used to denote a house in mourning. It was also planted around cemeteries because it was believed the Yew had powers to ward off evil spirits.
Robin Hood’s bow is believed to have been made from Yew! Its wood was traditionally used in making English longbows and is still preferred today.
However, the planter of Yew needs to beware. Care should be taken to ensure livestock cannot browse on it, and people have died from eating the seeds and consuming teas made from the leaves.