A English Yew
Yews are a family (Taxaceae) of evergreen coniferous trees and shrubs often used in landscaping and ornamental horticulture. Yews are extremely slow growing. The yew has flat, dark-green needles, reddish bark, and bears seeds with red arils which, in Canada are eaten by cedar waxwings and other birds. Because the yew is a conifer it technically does not yield berries.
In England, the English Yew Taxus Baccata is often found in churchyards, as a symbol of long life, and some are known to be 2000 years old. An aternative explanation is that the poisonous berries and foliage discourage farmers and drovers from letting their animals wander into the burial grounds.
Symbolically, yews are considered the trees of death.
A close-up view of the leaves and arils of an English Yew
All species of yew contain the alkaloid taxine, which comes in several varieties indicated by letters. All parts of the tree except the arils contain dangerously toxic amounts of the alkaloid. When injested, the toxins work so quickly that the victim simply gasps and then drops dead from heart failure. Children sometimes eat the arils, but they are fortunately the least toxic part. Grazing animals are sometimes found dead near yew trees.