Trees of Latvia: The Yew of Rucava

Latvian Radio offers the latest installment in the "Greatest Trees of Latvia" series showcasing trees inside the country. This time we'll be visiting the European yew (Taxus baccata) in Kurzeme.

The protected tree grows on the border between Nīca and Rucava regions and has a girth of 1.92m. Latvian Radio visited the poisonous, beautiful tree with Andris Maisiņš, representative of the Nature Conservation Agency.

"There are very few yew trees left, and they're protected. In principle, the yew is a relict tree," he said.

According to Maisiņš, yew trees are so rare in Latvia as they're beautiful -- and thus potentially cut down for decorative purposes -- and as the wood wasn't as useful to preserve the trees when cutting down forests. But mostly it's because the trees have male and female individuals so it's difficult for them to pollinate.

According to legend, people pollinated the female yew trees in the vicinity from a neighboring male tree, gathering pollen on blankets below the male tree and conveying it to the female individuals when the trees are in bloom.

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