The Yew Tree: A Thousand Whispers (Hal Hartzell Jr)

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The story of the yew tree is hundreds if not thousands of years old. Who doesn't recall Robin Hood and his "bow of yew"? In several fascinating chapters, Hartzell traces the tree's history and mythology and then describes the ancient yew trees that survive in English churchyards, probably because the churches were built on pagan sites sacred to the yew tree. He also discusses the dilemma concerning the yew tree of the Pacific Northwest. Once used by Native Americans to make tools and artifacts and as a medical cure-all, it now faces extinction because its bark contains a powerful anti-cancer drug, taxol. The story of environmentalists versus industry is disturbing, but common; what is fascinating about this book is the history of the tree itself. Highly recommended as an addition to natural history or environmental collections.