This is an ancient sacred tree which can live for anything up to 3,000 years; it's
evergreen leaves, a symbol of mourning and resurrection.
Many yew trees can be found planted in graveyards, and small sprigs of yew
were often planted in the grave to protect the spirit.
One old tale concerning the yew is that the tree became dissatisfied with it's
dark green needles, envying the other trees in the forest their beautiful coloured
leaves. It grumbled to the faeries asking them to change it's appearance; so
to keep the yew happy they changed it's leaves into gold. The golden leaves
glittered in the sun but this attracted the thieves and they stripped the tree bare.
The faeries then gave the tree delicate leaves of crystal but a storm came
and the rain smashes the delicate leaves, leaving the tree naked.
The yew was then clothed in bright green and gold leaves that fluttered in the
wind but this attracted all the wild animals of the woods, and the tree was again
stripped bare of it's leaves. The yew stood there in the wood and moaned for
it's own evergreen leaves to be returned, so the faeries once again did their magic
and returned the yew tree to it's original form. But because the tree still envied the
other trees their colourful leaves the faeries gave it bright red berries to wear
every year, and made the berries along with the leaves poisonous to
discourage the beasts of the forest.
Faeries and Folklore of the British Isles