Hicks Yew Hedge - First Berries (Arils) - September 2020


The past few days, I've added some entries to my garden diary showing off some late Summer growth on our Dawn Redwood tree and our front-yard Bald Cypress tree.  Today, I'm adding an entry showing how our Hicks Yews in the back of our lot are showing off some 'berries' for what I think is the first time.

The posted about these Yews just last month when they were looking fine.  And earlier this Spring, I posted a photo showing off their new growth after they suffered some frost/winter (and maybe rabbit?!?) damage.

I planted these last Summer, so I'm thinking that due to the transplant shock, we didn't see any berries in their first season.

But...turns out, these 'berries' aren't really berries.  They're "arils".  And they arrive mid-Summer - hence why I'm noticing them right now: Via this post on Four Season Foraging:
Yew produces red arils— berry-like seed coverings. (I'll just call them "berries" for simplicity's sake.) They are fleshy, cup-shaped, and 1/4 to 1/2 inch long. The inside of the cup houses the brown seed, which is less than 1/4 inch in diameter. This reproductive structure is unique to yew; most evergreens produce seed cones. If you find an evergreen with small red, fleshy berries, it is certainly yew. However, the berries typically mature from June to September, so they're not a reliable identification mark year-round.

These arils were part of why I selected the Hicks Upright Yews in the first place - as I know they're (potentially) a food source for birds and critters.   When we went through the NWF "Certified Wildlife Habitat" process, we had to identify three sources of food.  This now gets us an additional one beyond our various feeders and nuts from our Walnut and Oak trees.

Here's a post from Jennifer Tetlow in the UK where she talks about the birds (and critters) finding a lot of value in her yews.

I've seen a little bit of growth, but haven't figured out a way to document and measure that growth other than via visual cues from photos.  But, our end-state is something akin to this hedge with the swooping curves - a few years from now.

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