Yews and toxicity

(Question)

My question is about yew trees or shrubs.  I’ve been told that they are toxic or poisonous if you eat it.  I have one that I want to take out and plant vegetables or other food in the same space.  Are yew trees toxic and do they leave toxins behind in the soil when you have removed the tree.

(Answer)

Yes, yew trees are toxic. The leaves, bark and seeds of the yew are toxic (or poisonous) when ingested.  The red part of the berry is harmless but the seed inside is highly toxic if eaten.   Furthemore, the sap of the yew can be an irritant for some people. I could not find information with evidence to indicate that vegetables will take up the toxins found in the yew tree.  The soil may be slightly acidic, where the yew had been growing so members of the brassica family (broccoli, cabbage, sprouts) may not do well.  To be on the safe side you may want to remove the roots as completely as possible, and wait for 1-2 years before planting vegetables. In the meantime plant a cover crop like white clover, peas, or annual rye grass and then dig it under.