Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

Wooden Wonders part six: yew - a hard softwood!

Posted: February 12, 2012 at 15:10 pm Author: Kate Cashmore

Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, is full of magnificent trees.

As part of our half term Wooden Wonders event taking place from 14 – 16 February, Kate Cashmore from Westonbirt’s learning team has created a trail which will help you find out about our hidden wonders.

Here, she highlights some of the Wooden Wonders that you can discover when you follow the trail.

Yew, though a conifer, grows slowly and has very hard wood.


The older, heartwood is dark and the outer sapwood light, which combination is used for decorative effect by carvers for example for bowls.

The different qualities of the two woods is used to great effect in longbows – by combining a strip of heartwood with a strip of sapwood, the bow can bend in the most effective way.

The oldest wooden artefact dug up in Britain, is a yew spear 150,000 years old!

The trunks tend to grow in strange shapes – look out for them along the path as you follow the Wooden Wonders trail this half term.

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