There are yew trees (Taxus baccata). Compounds found in the yew (taxols) are now used in the successful treatment of many forms of previously intractable malignancies, notably ovarian cancer. Leaves from the English Yew Tree can be processed to extract precursors of these cytotoxic drugs that prevent the depolymerization of tubulin, thus inhibiting cell division.
Yew (Taxus baccata).    Yew is highly valued in furniture industry for its hard reddish timber resistant to the damage of insects and fungi.  Yew is an evergreen tree, up to 32m high. Its treetop is thick and oval, its leaves are dark green and shiny above; beneath they are matt and milky green. The plant grows very slowly; therefore, it can reach an age of about 4000 years. Yew is also cultivated as a decorative plant in many countries. In fact, all parts of the plant are poisonous which is due mostly to the alkaloid taxin.  Symptoms include nausea and vomiting, increased salivation, stomach ache, diarrhoea, sleepiness, shortage of breath, trembling, spasms, malfunction of the cardiovascular system which leads to collapse and death.  The bark of the Yew  is used to produce Taxol, used in the treatment of certain cancers.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 16th March 2010

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