At Boxley, there are such extensive stands of yew that the ‘Yew Woodland’ affords the site protection in Europe as a ‘Special Area of Conservation’.
Yew is a beautiful, slow-growing species which adorns the central hollow way up through the Warren, and is present throughout much of the woodland. Yew wood is a favourite, (but tricky!) wood for crafting long-bows. Aging of the yew trees is hard as they grow so slowly, but they definitely have an ‘ageless’ feel – creating a very atmospheric environment with tangled roots and thick canopy. The yew trees at Boxley are likely to be several hundred years old, but they do not seem to be an ancient feature, as for example, some church-yard yews can be. It’s likely that the yew woodland spread as levels of woodland management (local dependence on sources of wood) decreased in the 19th Century.
Where there are dense stands of yew, little else can grow, but it has certain benefits such as the seasonal bright red berries that give beautiful winter colour and are an important food source for wild creatures.