I previously mentioned Scotland’s Fortingall Yew here. Well apparently there’s something queer going on with it:
The UK’s oldest tree, thought to be up to 5,000 years old, is undergoing a “sex change”.
Records have always noted the Fortingall Yew in Perthshire as a male tree but it has recently started sprouting berries – something only female yew trees do.
Experts at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh spotted three berries on a high branch of the tree, located in the churchyard of the village of Fortingall, Perthshire, and have now taken them for analysis as part of a conservation project.
Dr Max Coleman, of the Royal Botanic Garden, said yew trees have been known to change sex before but discovering the process on “such a special tree is what makes this a special story”.
The Fortingall Yew is believed to be between 3,000 and 5,000 years old, and is one of the oldest living organisms in Europe.
It has survived the ravages of time and the attention of eager tourists, who in previous centuries took clippings from it as souvenirs.
The trunk changed shape many years ago and has lost its centre and one side, and the tree is now protected by a small wall.
Coleman said: “Yew trees are male or female usually and it is pretty easy to spot which is which in autumn – males have tiny things that produce pollen and females have bright red berries from autumn into winter.
This process may have happened before but we know the Fortingall Yew has been classed as male for hundreds of years through records.
The sex change isn’t the amazing bit in this case, it’s the fact it’s this particular tree.”
Source: The Guardian