Botanists from the British Isles stand an awe over a new discovery, involving the oldest tree in Britain, possibly on Earth. The Yew tree is changing sex and researchers are attempting to explain this rather unusual event.
The Fortingall Yew, also known as the Taxus Baccata, can be found in Fortingall’s churchyard. As to the age of the tree, scientists estimate that it has between 1500 and 3000 years. Other theories regarding the age of the tree place it around 5000 years.
Historical experts are inclined to think that the tree rose in a former post-Roman Christian site. Also, the yew is considered to be at the root of many tales and myths. According to some of the legends, dating back to early Christianity, Pontius Pilates was born under the tree’s birch and used to play under the tree in his early years of life.
Regarding the overall aspect of the yew tree, there are a couple of facts that are worthy of mentioning. A chronicle, dating back to the second half of the 18th century (1789 was the year), the tree itself was indeed majestic. Its trunk measured at least 16 meters. There are no additional notes regarding its overall height or how the yew’s head looked like.
As a result of natural aging, the yew tree split into several stems, giving the viewer the impression that there are a lot of small trees in that area. Due to the fact that the tree was subjected to heavy weather condition, over time, he lost its heartwood rings. This is one of many the reasons that impede scientists to estimate the tree’s age.
Apart from being subjected to any number of weather conditions, the tree has suffered much from human interference. Another note, found in another chronicle, mentions that in 1833, many carpenters and woodworkers came and severed large portions of the tree. The wood would be used to fashion drinking-cups and other household items.
Coming back to modern times, this year, leading scientists from the Royal Botanic Garden have discovered that the Yew tree is changing sex. For a long period of time the yew tree was male. But this year, red berries have sprouted from his elderly branches. Usually, the red berries signify that a tree is actually a female.
Scientist theorized that the tree might undergo this change in order to renew his essences.