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Atmospheric Arboreta: Ancient Yews in Italy

  • Forests


Atmospheric arboreta are outdoor centres of natural history, which preserve rare species of trees and shrubs. They form a vital link with the past and are vital reservoirs of genetic information, carrying us back to the origins of the species. Italy’s atmospheric arboreta have a particular claim to fame when it comes to ancient trees; their ancient yews – many of which are hundreds of years old.

The Unique Characteristics of Ancient Yews

Atmospheric arboreta are found across the world. Many species have become rare, due to destruction of their habitat or other reasons, but some have managed to be preserved in remote areas. Ancient yews are an especially remarkable species, with many of them having lived for hundreds of years. Yews are evergreen and can reach a considerable age with some of the oldest trees still alive said to be at least 2,000 years old. In some cases, the shape of the tree, its contorted form, and age make it a unique sentient being in its own right, and over the centuries, yews have become worshipped as sanctuaries and protective deities.

Yews grow in a variety of soils and climates, but they are particularly found in temperate landscapes and they grow up to heights of 25m. In climatic zones such as in southern Italy, yews predominate in hills and mountains, with all the ideal conditions for their growth. This type of climate has allowed for the survival of hundreds of ancient yews in Italy, some of them reaching staggering heights up to 40m.

The Significance of Ancient Yews in History

Ancient Yews have been an important part of Italian history since ancient times. They were used by Roman civilizations and scholars as symbols of sacredness, continuity and strength. The Greeks also planted yews around their temples and honouring them with songs and prayers. Ancient yews were also widely used in Asian cultures and religions, with Chinese and Japanese cultures associating them with long life and immortality.

Yews have been a part of Italian culture for hundreds of years, and many people believe that a tree will bring luck and protection if it is planted in an old home. Ancient yews have become a symbol of hope, prosperity and spiritual strength, and this is something that many Italian people still treasure today.

Atmospheric Arboreta: Ancient Yews in Italy two

Preserving Ancient Yews

The preservation of ancient yews is a key activity in preserving Italy’s natural heritage, for these trees represent symbolically a centuries-old link to the past. Italy has established specific laws to protect these ancient yews, including the prohibition of their destruction or removal, as well as a special body that is responsible for their conservation. The law states that only specialists should trim or remove ancient yews, and they must not be sold or moved.

In order to protect these yews it is important that they are managed and maintained in a sustainable way. A number of projects have been created to not only protect the trees, but to encourage the public to appreciate these unique natural wonders. These projects involve training local communities in how to take care of yews, as well as establishing nature trails that lead people to visit these trees in the most sustainable manner.

Ancient Yews in Italy’s Atmospheric Arboreta

Ancient Yews can be found in atmospheric arboreta across Italy, with the majority located in Lazio, Campania, and Sicily. In Lazio, located near Rome, there are numerous locations where ancient yews can be found, with some of them reaching heights of up to 40m. The most impressive of these yews are located in Cerveteri, the largest necropolis in provincial Italy.

Campania is also home to a number of atmospheric arboreta where ancient yews can be found, mainly in the southern part of the region. One of the most impressive ancient yews in Campania is located in the small town of Serra in the province of Salerno. This yew has a special history and is said to have been planted in the 15th century by a former noble family, which had it planted to symbolize their power and wealth.

Finally, in Sicily, the atmospheric arboreta of the town of Flumeri, the town of Acireale, and the region of Cumia are home to a number of ancient yews. In Flumeri, there is an impressive collection of yews located near a small church, many of which are said to be hundreds of years old.


Italy is home to a number of atmospheric arboreta, where a wide variety of rare species can be found. Amongst these are many ancient yews, some said to be hundreds of years old. These yews have been a part of Italian culture and sacred symbolism since ancient times, and their preservation is a key activity in protecting Italy’s natural heritage. By planting new yews and preserving the existing ancient ones, these atmospheric arboreta can be seen as a vital link to Italy’s past and a reminder of the unique and remarkable species that are found in the area.

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