yew and juniper



yew and juniper defined in 1944 year

yew and juniper - Yew and Juniper;
yew and juniper - Although botanically distinct, the yew and the juniper are alike in being natives of Britain, having succulent fruits instead of cones, and in being of little or no value in commercial forestry.

The Yew (Taxus baccata L., Taxacex), G. Eibe; F. If; W. Ywen; E. Iubar or Ioga, is the only common tree to retain its old British name in modern English speech. Its leaf-sprays are usually easily identified by the deep black-green hue of the needles, which are spirally ranged but lie in two ranks, almost in one plane, on the horizontal branchlets; on erect shoots the needles spread outwards in all directions, the buds are small, with rounded scales, often hidden by the unfolding needles. The trunk is erect, usually much divided, with thin, red-brown bark, and long branches sweeping far out and low down. Male and female flowers are usually borne on distinct trees, the male flowers beneath the branchlets being stalked and spherical in shape, with many stamens bearing yellow pollen. The female flowers are borne singly in leaf axils, and are. green in colour. Only one seed is formed by each flower; it has a hard coat, and is surrounded by a bright red layer of succulent flesh, which attracts birds. These distribute the seeds, and may even swallow them without injury, those of the Thrush tribe being especially partial to yew berries. The seedling has two cotyledons.

The yew is the sole British representative of a large and very old group of conifers, the Taxacta, with thirteen genera, mostly in the tropics and the southern hemisphere. The most important of these is PodocarpuSy L'Héritier, the Yellow Wood of South Africa, which also provides important timber trees in Australia, New Zealand, South America, south-eastern Asia and Malaysia. The yew is itself a tree of some geological antiquity, and occurs right round the northern hemisphere. There are many varieties, but the various species are little more than local forms. Most distinct of cultivated forms is the erect columnar Irish Yew. The yews are well-adapted to topiary work - the cutting and training of trees into designs or figures.

As a wild tree, the yew is widespread throughout Britain, forming natural groves on most soils, but particularly so on chalk downs in the south. Wherever fields are enclosed, yews are cut out as their foliage is poisonous to stock, but animals on open range know better than to touch it, and it has been left unfelled as shelter for them on the exposed downlands. Even there, however, its dead foliage is dangerous, and if a yew is felled the leaves should be removed and destroyed. It regenerates naturally, since stock avoid its seedlings, and young yews may often be found growing on the Downs. Flowers appear in March; fruits ripen in September.

The varieties of yew are propagated by cuttings, and the type by seed, which should have the pulp removed and be stored in moist sand for 18 months before sowing. Early growth is very slow. The yew endures the densest shade of any British conifer, and casts a still denser one. It is grown only for ornament, and can seldom be used in hedges owing to the danger to stock. Churchyard yews were planted in every village in mediaeval times to ensure the supply of long-bows, the branches being tough and pliant. A branch of yew makes a first-class beater for forest fires, if cut when needed; it is springy and the foliage is not inflammable. There is little direct evidence of the age of churchyard yews, but a few may be as much as 1,000 years old; they linger on indefinitely even when their heartwood has decayed. Heights of 80 feet, girths of 11 feet, occur.

Yew wood is of little commercial value, being found only in small sizes, seldom clean or straight enough for the sawyer. The heartwood is reddish brown and the sapwood yellowish white. Its /appearance is attractive, and it is occasionally used for turnery or fine cabinet making. In the round it makes excellent fence- posts and stakes, being extremely durable; but it grows too slowly to be worth cultivation as a forest tree. Figs. 1, 2.

The Juniper (Juniperus communis L,. Cupressaceae), G. Wachholder, Kranawitt, Machandl; F. Genévrier; American, Ground Cedar, is a common shrub of the Scottish and Welsh Highlands and Uplands, occurring in England chiefly on chalk Downs in the south-east, and being widespread abroad around the northern hemisphere. Readily identified by its sharp pointed needles, standing out from the stem in groups of three, and by its pleasantly aromatic odour, the juniper resembles the yew in bearing succulent fruit. Its black berries are composed of three swollen cone-scales, each bearing a single seed; they are developed from minute green female flowers, and in their first autumn are greenish blue in colour, not ripening fully until their second year. They are used for flavouring gin, to which they give their name. The male flowers are small, yellowish, cylindrical structures, usually borne on a separate bush. The wood of juniper is too small and scarce to be of utility, but the dried twigs and branches make good kindling.

The foliage of the Common Juniper, and of certain other species, never develops beyond the juvenile stage. In many foreign junipers, such as the Savin (Juniperus Sabina L. G. Sadebaum; F. Sabine, found on limestone hills in Switzerland, a second type of foliage is developed, closely resembling that of Cypress (Eu-Cupressus type). The adult leaves are 4-ranked, short, broad, inter-folded in a regular pattern of V's or X's, clasping and hiding the stem. Both types of foliage occur somewhat irregularly on the Pencil Cedar (Juniperus virginiana L.) of eastern North America, which is a tall tree yielding a valuable timber familiar to everyone in the form of lead pencils. Similar wood is obtained from the East African Cedar (J. procera, Hochstetter) found on the highlands of Kenya and Abyssinia., A beautiful Weeping species, with juvenile leaves, is J. recurva, Hamilton, which has been introduced into British gardens from the Himalayas.

The timber junipers are not hardy enough for forest planting in Britain, but other species and varieties are cultivated in gardens, where their small size is an advantage. They are propagated by cuttings, grafting, or from seed, the berries being stored in sand for 18 months prior to sowing; the seedlings have two cotyledons.

Junipers flower in spring. Their berry-like cones require two seasons to ripen. Figs. 3, 4e, 5d.

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