Taxus Baccata, a conifer that can be confused with pines or firs, if it were not for the bark is practically unmistakable. It belongs to the Taxaceae family and it is one of the most toxic plants on the Italian territory, its origins are to be found in the countries overlooking the Mediterranean. In addition to being toxic, it also has advantages. It is useful for some therapies that we will see, and it is excellent to shape in hedges thanks to some peculiar characteristics of its foliage. It is green in nature, but there are some cultivated species that flaunt yellow or variegated leaves.
Taxus Baccata: plant
Evergreen and very long-lived, the Taxus Baccata it grows very slowly but also reaches 20 meters in height. One of the peculiarities of this conifer is the bark, first reddish brown, then gray, and over time, as well as "graying", tends to flake.
Leaves, highly toxic, they are small, narrow, shiny and dark green on the top, lighter on the bottom. Together they form a rounded crown, very dense and which, unlike other conifers, does not empty into the lower part. The flowers tend to be small in Taxus Baccata male are pale yellow and united in clusters, in females they are "single" and in summer turn into rounded fruits covered with red pulp, very showy and decorative.
This plant is quite tolerant: even if it loves sunny places, it tolerates even complete shade very well, not it suffers from pollution and strong winds. Of course, if it is not in excellent environmental conditions, it grows more slowly: it barely reaches 50 cm and develops forming a very enlarged crown.
In general with the Taxus Baccata however, you must arm yourself with patience to be able to admire tall specimens: it takes at least 10 or 20 years to see them, the maximum that can be obtained, over time, is 20 meters high with a trunk of one meter in diameter. Although not very competitive as a plant due to its slowness, this one conifer it does not do badly because it adapts to even unlikely conditions and, rustic as it is, it is not attacked by parasites or diseases.
Taxus Baccata: hedge
The shape of the crown, the leaves and their distribution make the Taxus Baccata one of the best plants for creating formal hedges and for topiary art. In a garden it can be the protagonist or stand in the background as a backdrop. Initially it has a pyramidal shape, then as it grows it becomes softer and rounder, suitable to be molded into the desired shapes also because it is dense and rich, well branched.
With the Taxus Baccata you can easily create small hedges or cut the wave tops by reproducing the classic English gardensHowever, as we grow slowly, we don't have to keep tweaking the shape that lasts long enough.
Taxus Baccata: ownership
The Taxus Baccata, in ancient times it was used as an abortion, but over time, and with numerous and important researches, today it contains substances synthesized as active agents against some types of tumors. Some active ingredients of this plant are used in chemotherapy products for the fight against some forms of cancer, in particular the tassina it is used in some forms of ovarian cancer.
The other good properties of the Taxus Baccata concern its wood, which has always been considered precious and used specifically for the production of weapons. In ancient times it was the first choice to create bows and crossbows because it is very hard, but at the same time elastic and extremely durable. And, not negligible as an advantage, totally resin-free. Even today, this wood is used very frequently for the production of work tools.
Taxus Baccata: meaning
The common name derives from the Greek tóxon which means bow / arrow. It is known as the tree of death, since the darts made from its wood were poisonous. And to worsen its reputation it should be remembered that it was also used in the avenues of cemeteries. The Celts began to worship him and even today the Taxus Baccata is revered, with the double symbolic value of tree of the dead, for his strong toxicity, and tree of life, because it carries the eternal one.
Taxus Baccata: where to buy it
If we want a hedge to try to create Edward Scissorhands style sculptures, we can move forward with the long growth phase of the Taxus Baccata and adopt a plant that is already 4 years old. At 16 euros they are easily found specimens that can then continue to be cultivated year after year, with patience. Right from the start, admiring the color of the lively fruits.
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