Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

 'I Spy' in a village churchyard:
A valuable ecosystem

It is common to find old yew trees in old churchyards
in central and southeast England, the Lake District, and Wales
due to well-draining chalk and limestone soils

Slow growing and long lived,
yews have been found to be older than the churches they protect
possibly because they were planted on old religious sites where churches were erected later

The majority of the world's ancient yews is found in Britain,
some still growing after 1000 years

These evergreens were
sacred to the Druids and Celtics,
a common source of myths and legends,
used for making longbows during the Middle Ages,
and always a good food source for birds

One of the curious things about yews is they have an unusually small cone
surrounded by what looks like a red berry (an 'aril' to be exact)
which is the only part of the tree that is not poisonous

Another 'I Spy' is lichens on gravestones

Lichens take water and nourishment not from soil, but from air

As many gravestones are made of limestone,
they create an ideal habitat for these little cutie-pie plants 
as limestone neutralizes acidic pollution

Because headstones are rarely cleaned and graves are rarely disturbed, 
churchyards inadvertently protect some endangered lichens

 So much life in a village churchyard :)

- all photos by me -

Sources: AncientYew.orgWikipedia, Country Living Magazine Dec 2011, The Country Life Book of the Natural History of the British Isles pub 1980


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January 31st


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