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Wirral's Oldest Living Organism

Key Facts
Species: Common Yew Taxus baccata Location: Eastham churchyard, CH62 0AH
Height: 9m (2004) Access: Open but please remember you are in the grounds of a church.
Diameter: 130cm (2004) Best time to see: Anytime
Planting Date: Approximately 1500 years ago Threats: A number of Yew trees have recently died on the Wirral, possibly due to dry summers.
Tree Register of British Isles Status: Class 2 Who looks after the tree: Eastham Parish
Tree Register of British Isles Number: 140038
Tree warden: none
Tree Preservation Order Number: none Can I grow one in my garden? Not advisable as although easily obtained and grown, (in fact it's becoming a pest in Wirral's woodlands), it will grow too big for most gardens.
  Date of Photo: March 2009

Therapeutic and Medicinal Qualities

Taxol, one of the most important of all tree extracts, is used in the treatment of breast and ovarian cancer. Its ability to cure illness had long been known to the American Indians who called the Yew, "The Chief of the Forest". They used it to treat a wide array of ailments. Then Munroe Wall, a chemist from North Carolina discovered its anti cancer properties in 1966. Sadly it took until the 1980's before the National Cancer Institute acknowledged his work with Human trials beginning in 1983. The extract is derived from the foliage of the tree.



The Eastham Yew is without doubt Wirral's most important tree. For some years it was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as Britain's oldest tree. Today there are now many other yew trees which have been dated further back in time. The tree still retains national significance, though, due to its recorded history, which is unusual. There are 5 types of Yew tree in Flaybrick.

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