FLORENCE Court’s famous ‘Mother Yew’ tree, which is the origin of every Irish yew tree in the world, has been selected as one of 70 ancient trees from across the UK dedicated to the late Queen Elizabeth II.
Agriculture and Environment Minister Edwin Poots recently visited the famous Fermanagh tree, which was selected as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) jubilee project.
The 250-year-old tree was first found growing in on the slopes of Cuilcagh in the eighteenth century and transplanted to the grounds of Florencecourt estate. It is well known amongst horticulturists around the world, being the ‘mother’ of every Irish yew currently growing on the planet.
Irish yew is distinguished from the common yew by its upright habit, and is a common feature of cemeteries and churchyards. However, due to being propagated so frequently over the centuries the Florence Court tree is now bushier than its offspring.
As the story goes, in 1767 local farmer George Willis came across a pair of strange saplings growing on Cuilcagh. Noticing the plants’ unusual vertical shape, he dug up both and planted one in his own garden, which survived until the late 1800s. The other he gifted to his landlord, William Cole, 1st Earl of Enniskillen, who planted it on his estate where it still thrives to this day.
Over the years the tree has been propagated extensively, with countless cuttings taken from it and its offspring to reproduce millions of trees across Ireland and beyond. According to the National Trust, it became so popular that in 1820 it was commercially reproduced.
The tree is now located on the edge of Florencecourt Forest, which is managed by Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), and is an important habitat for a wide range of species and ancient trees.
On his visit last week, DAERA Minister Poots said the tree was “a popular amenity for local people and tourism in the wider Fermanagh area, particularly because of its close association with the historic National Trust Florence Court House and grounds.”
“This forest offers many diverse species and habitats, all of which have an important role in providing enjoyment for many people,” he said. “They support positive economic, environmental and social outcomes for citizens, including health and well-being benefits.”
He added, “The Florencecourt Yew tree is well-known and has an important historic value, being now the mother to millions of offspring across the world.”
Minister Poots said he was delighted the Mother Yew had been chosen for network of 70 ancient trees dedicated to Queen Elizabeth’s jubilee and legacy.
“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s passion for our countryside and nature was clearly evident throughout her life,” he said.
“The QGC initiative dedicates trees to her legacy which serve as a lasting tribute to Her Majesty’s extraordinary service to her country and her people.”
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