Following their long association with graveyards, yews are currently in demand for the cancer-fighting chemicals found in their new growth.
The yew is a native tree, held sacred by the Druids, perhaps because of its ability to grow afresh from a drooping limb that touches soil. The Celts associated yew with death and resurrection and from early Christianity yew shoots were buried with the dead.
Paradoxically, the leaves, bark and seeds of the yew tree are toxic to humans, though birds and animals are unharmed by the fruits. Yet the pharmaceutical industry has a growing need for yew clippings, from which they derive a compound that inhibits cell division, used in medicines to treat cancer.
Even the Church Times has carried a plea for churches and individuals to supply yew clippings to support the increased demand for the cancer drug.
How fitting that a tree so entwined with death should carry too the hope of healing.
More on Yew Trees and their associations in Trees for Life
BBC Wildlife video on the brooding yew