Florencecourt Yew

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Florencecourt Yew in 2010
Trunk of the Florencecourt Yew

The Florencecourt Yew is a specimen of yew (Taxus baccata) growing in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. This single tree is the source of most ornamental yews referred to as "Irish yew".

In 1740, a local farmer, George Willis retrieved a pair of yew saplings from the slopes of Cuilcagh mountain near Florencecourt, County Fermanagh. The trees found on the mountain had an unusual vertical style or fastigiated character [1] compared to the typical common yew of Britain and Europe. One sapling was presented to his landlord, William Willoughby Cole (later 1st Earl of Enniskillen) who had it planted on his estate at Florence Court. The other was planted in his own garden where it survived until 1865.

The estate's specimen flourished and attracted much attention from visitors and the horticultural community. Cuttings were often taken from the tree for propagation throughout the Kingdom. It became so popular that in 1820, the tree was commercially propagated. It is believed that almost all the Irish yew (fastigiated) specimens common in churchyards throughout the world are derived from this one tree.[2]

Although the tree is female, it can only be propagated from cuttings without losing its upright habit.[3] As a result, the original tree has lost much of its own characteristic shape and is no longer the impressive specimen it once was. Indeed, the tree is almost unrecognisable as an Irish yew, with huge holes and an unbalanced shape; echoed in the damage to the trunk.


Coordinates: 54°15′40″N 7°43′38″W / 54.261004°N 7.727313°W / 54.261004; -7.727313