Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mountain hike to a millennial Taxus baccata tree.

Deze post in het Nederlands: Klik hier.     

Yesterday afternoon we went for a trip to visit a millennial Taxus baccata. This tree stands completely alone and isolated at the foot of some high mountain peaks. So it was quite a climb, especially since there is no clear path going to the yew. The Taxus baccata is a very poisonous yew tree, although the cattle and specially the goats sometimes eat the twigs. The only edible substance of the tree is the red flesh of the fruits, although the kernel is poisonous again. The best is to be very careful when eating the fruits or simply not eating them at all.


At first the path was rather good and ahead some curious cows were waiting for us.

The yew tree is situated just under the mountain peak that can be seen in the center of the photo .

We left the path and began the ascent, at the beginning over an accessible pasture .

However, soon we were climbing on bare rock. Between us and the mountain in this picture .....

..... there was a steep ravine with thundering waterfalls .

A lonely evergreen holm oak (Quercus ilex) , stands as a guard between the rocks.

This Cornish oak (Quercus petraea) is a real stayer, how long it has already been fighting with the elements?

We continued our way on the right side of this valley, the limestone formation in the middle of the picture is called the Santa Lucía Formation, a layer of rock very rich in fossils from the Devonian (some 400 million years ago).

These goat paths were a relief, relatively easy going compared to the sharp rocks that we had just left behind.

But it didn´t last long. However, the scenery was very much worth all the trouble.

Finally, the Taxus baccata (yew tree) .

The base of the tunk consists of many branches and roots. One of the aims of today was to measure the circumference of the tree by putting a cord very tight around it. However, because of all these protrusions it was quite difficult to accomplish, but with a bit of persistence….. After recovering the rope it was measured and the result was 9.95 meters. Just 5 cm short of an easy to remember 10 meters .

This taxus tree consists of four major trunks. According to the locals of the region, this tree must be more than a 1000 years old, and given the large size of the tree and the barrenness of the place, it will probably be true.

The evening began to fall, and it was still a long way back. The millennial yew tree stands at the foot of a beautiful geological structure: a huge sycline. During the last ice age large amounts of snow accumulated at this place forming a firnbasin.

The sun had just set, therefor this Cornish oak is illuminated with a red light. When we got back to the car it was already dark.


  1. Waaaw, I love mountains!!! the tree is so impressive. Great pictures Marius.
    hugs, Hilde

  2. Thanks Hilde, I saved the tree for the last.

    Hugs, Marius