One expects a 600 yew to measure at least 100 meters, but the appearance of the Taxus baccata (as it is universally known) does not work that much. The texu (It is called that in Asturias) reaches, at most, the 20 meters in height, although it is just the right height to be able to scan a little further in time.
The yew trees or texos are powerful and long-lived trees, they can live a millennium. Although scarce and protected, some of them occupy the throne of Asturian nature from an almost infinite experience. Without going any further, individual copies of the council of Allande, in the villages of Santa Coloma and Lake, boast of having seen the time pass before the discovery of America.
As an English saying goes: "the life of a yew, the length of an era".
As he lives so much, around him hundreds of symbolisms and even mythologies have been brewing. A totem that well is associated with life or death (possibly at two and eternity). Some argue that the sap of the yew tree was used by the Astures to inspire their ritual dances. Since those times the custom of plant the yew next to the house, the church or the hermitage. Even today this tradition is still alive. The Asturians remain faithful to a tree that once organized part of their beliefs and values, culture and territory, and that sheltered in their shadow assemblies and parties. On this side we have the tree of life. That of death comes from its semantics and the poison of its plants. In all European countries they were manufactured the best arcs with the wood of the yew trees. The Romans learned it from the Greeks, and the modern states of the Roman Empire. This warlike function enhanced the deadly nuance of the tree. In addition, it is probable that the Latin name of the yew, taxus, is related to toxon, the Greek name of the bow, and with toxicon, the Greek name of the poison with which the arrows were smeared.
How are the yews?
A long-lived, evergreen, slow-growing tree. It gives him time to witness several wars and peace treaties, thousands of storms and calm in a single life. Imagine, getting to have 15 meters high is more than 500 years of contradictory experiences and tons of rainwater. In its growth it seems to assimilate everything little by little, slowly, without frightening for anything: very slowly. Hence the expression "pa pa shadow when it is vieyu", which is usually quoted by one who decides to plant one.
Its double connotation, death-life, its religious past, is still evident today in two of its most common enclaves: the cemetery and the church (sites where more than 200 are cited throughout the region). While it is true that this location hides a practical function in the background: with its dense and perennial foliage protects the roofs of the building from the wind, provides shade and a health microclimate.
The yew in Asturias seldom occurs wild creating forests, except in localized areas of the Sierra del Sueve, Muniellos or the Aramo. Generally we speak of "tejedas" or "tejedales" to refer to the extensions in which the yew trees are especially abundant. These, however, tend to be scarce and coincide with demanding habitats demanded by the tree: medium altitude, calcareous soils and high rainfall. It is more common to get lost in other types of forest; and even more to live as an isolated individual. He likes to grow in solitude, surrounded by cliffs and soaked with water. In society he also lives alone, accompanied by some historical but silent property. Frequent private farms and shade rural homes.
Yew trees: protected trees
Its wood is very appreciated in cabinetmaking, especially for its hardness and elasticity, but it can not be touched: the yew is protected species. Cutting or unrooting requires administrative authorization. The conservationist measures are severe and some specimens have already been declared natural monuments. From being a halo of protection, guardian of time and the roofs of civilizations, it has become protected from enemies it has never known before. It is true that you continue to plant with respect, but you do not know how to take care of it as before. The reconstruction of the nearby buildings, the asphalt at your feet, the electric cables, the posters, thumbtacks, staples ... all contribute to your premature aging. On the other hand, wild yew trees have the enemies of other trees: non-rational forest exploitations.
The title of Natural Monument contributes to protect the more Anacians so that they have a dignified old age. In the Principality there are several of these titles for the aforementioned yew trees of Santa Coloma and Lago (Allande), of Salas (in the vicinity of the capital of Salas), Bermiego (Quirós) or Santibáñez de la Fuente (Aller) The latter, like the first two, has already exceeded half a millennium of existence, measures 12 meters in height and 15 meters in diameter.
The trunk of the yew does not tell us its age. It is striated, thick, with pardo-gray bark and produces a large number of branches that are extended and hanging at its termination. Its foliage suffers some sorrow, but it also blooms, it does so at the end of winter and early spring, maturing the seeds in autumn. Today, in the region, the cultivation of autochthonous yews is promoted, coming from cataloged genetics and Asturian nurseries that put these seeds to good protection.
A good way to fulfill the saying, almost the obligation, to plant a tree at least in the life of each man, would be to plant a yew. In this case the good ecological action also becomes an exercise of faith to God Time. We plant a tree that can see generations and generations go by, even to witness a change of era. Of course we can not think of a better way to perpetuate our memory and guard nature for such a long period of time. Even the universe, because an American legend tells how the Great Bear, the Little Bear and all the animals of the sky rose from the earth on the back of an arrow shot with a yew bow.Text: © Ramón Molleda for desdeasturias.com
Information of interestIn the following link you will find detailed, step by step, how to touch immortality with a seed in your hand.