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Fortingall Yew, Fortingall

4.3
#20 of 35 in Sightseeing in Perth and Kinross
Landmark Tourist Spot
The Fortingall Yew is an ancient European yew in the churchyard of the village of Fortingall in Perthshire, Scotland. Modern expert estimates have put its age over 3,000 years. It may be the oldest tree in Britain.AgeModern expert estimates put the age of the tree at between 2,000 and 3,000 years, although it may be a remnant of a post-Roman Christian site and around 1,500 years old. Others have suggested an age as great as 5,000 years to 9000 years. This still makes it one of the oldest known trees in Europe, although the root system of the Norway spruce Old Tjikko in Sweden is at least 9,500 years old. The Fortingall Yew is possibly the oldest tree in Britain.The treeThe tree's once massive trunk with a former head of unknown original height, is split into several separate stems, giving the impression of several smaller trees, with loss of the heartwood rings that would establish its true age. This is a result of the natural decay of the ancient heartwood, which reduced the centre of the trunk down to ground level by 1770. Other than this, the tree is still in good health, and may last for many more centuries. By 1833 it was noted that "large arms had been removed and even masses of the trunk, carried off, to make drinking-cups and other curiosities." It is protected by a low wall erected in 1785 to preserve it but it can still be easily viewed. The yew is male, however in 2015 scientists from the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh reported that one small branch on the outer part of the crown had changed sex and begun to bear a small group of berries - an occurrence occasionally noted in conifers. The seeds have been preserved for study and will be used to help maintain genetic diversity in yews.
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  • Glad I called to view the yew tree as I was told about it, as I work with trees I thought it was interesting viewing it. But I don't think it's for everyone. Still if your passing call in.  more »
  • If you're a big fan of history like my wife, this might be up your alley. Very neat to see a tree this old, but I found the drive here to be too stressful to make it worthwhile. Very skinny roads with...  more »
  • The Tree, reputedly the oldest in the UK and possibly Europe, is tucked away in a quiet corner of the Fortingall Parish Church graveyard and is now enclosed by a wall and fencing, to protect it from f...  more »