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Edinburgh offers yews for free

by
27 February 2015

by Hazel Southam

iSTOCK

THE Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh (RBGE) is offering 100 churches a yew tree to plant in their churchyards.

The offer comes as the RBGE is planting a yew hedge of 2000 saplings across Britain. It is hoped that it will be completed in 2020.

The yew tree that is being offered free to any church is a rare variety from Chile.

The co-ordinator of the RBGE international conifer conservation programme, Martin Gardner, says that the free trees are being offered because historic yew trees in Britain "are under threat".

"We are losing ancient yews all the time in this country, to climate change, development, and vandalism," he said. "We have to conserve every single one.

"It matters because this is important genetic material. We also know that yew trees have important properties for treating cancer; but we have only just touched the tip of the iceberg for testing plants like yew for their medical uses."

A spokesman for the Church of England said: "We welcome the news that the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, are utilising the diverse and extensive range of churchyards."

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