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© Gert Elbertsen
Cultural historian and ecologist Bert Maes may have discovered an indigenous population of yew in a secret location near Winterswijk. The yew, a coniferous tree with red berries, played an important religious role in pre-Christian Europe. So it is likely that these Jews are descendants of the trees that our ancestors revered.
Most likely a citizen
Yew is a popular plant species in the garden. It is easy to prune and is therefore often used as a hedge. These yews are either imported or cultivated; Not indigenous. Almost all yews in Dutch nature have their origins in gardens.
Maces cannot rule out with certainty that the Jews found came from a garden, but everything indicates that these Jews are indigenous. They look like wild yew trees, males and females are there and because there are other wild species such as wild apple and wild winter lime, the forest is clearly very old.
© Gert Elbertsen
Very important for grandparents
The yew was a very important tree to our ancestors, says forest anthropologist Carolyn Van Diest. Religious attributes from that time were almost always made of yew wood, and Yggdrasil – the mythical World Tree – after new linguistic research turned out not to be ash, but yew.
Although the yew has almost disappeared from our thoughts and culture these days, according to Van Diest, there are still “winks” of those ancient customs. The Christmas tree, which is often thought of as a Norway spruce, is, according to the most ancient sources, a yew tree.
All the more reason to protect this special category of yews. Mace: “The very old thing, older than dolmens, is something very special. We have to be very careful with that.”
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