Allgäu
Ancient

2,000 year-old yew tree in Balderschwang

Germany’s oldest yew tree stands approx. 1,150 m tall north east of Balderschwang’s village centre. It’s a male double yew, which has found its perfect habitat in the middle of the Nagelfluhkette nature park. This yew is estimated to be between 2,000 and 4,000 years old.

Just imagine everything that this magnificent tree has already experienced! The first chapel was built in Balderschwang in 1569 AD and the settlement gradually grew bigger and bigger. Yew wood was in great demand in the Middle Ages, which makes it all the more amazing that this tree survived the clearance of the surrounding mixed forest unscathed. Previous generations probably already recognised that this yew exudes a very special energy and spared it as a result.

This example of nature’s life’s work is deeply humbling when the entire human history is considered alongside this fresh verdant, still fertile tree today.

Germany’s oldest yew tree stands approx. 1,150 m tall north east of Balderschwang’s village centre. It’s a male double yew (Texus-baccata) from the calcareous Nagelfluh soil from the Tertiary period *), the yew is classified as a relict plant.

No differences could be established between the two parts in multiple observations repeated over two years. They both sprout at the same time, have the same colour needles (shape and length), have the same branch arrangements and both reach a height of 6 m. The total diameter at the base, a roughly 1 m wide centre piece is missing, is 2.70 m, the circumference at chest height around both parts is 8.10 m. This yew is estimated to be between 2,000 and 4,000 years old.

Our yew is certain to have stood in a covering mixed mountain forest for a long time, which still exists nearby, but the area around it fell victim to deforestation. The first chapel was built in Balderschwang in 1569. This isolated valley was probably only populated half a century before.

It is a fortuitous coincidence that the yew was preserved for us even though yew wood was sought after until well into the Middle Ages. This example of nature’s life’s work is deeply humbling when the entire human history is considered alongside this fresh verdant, still fertile tree today.

* Nagelfluh: a conglomerate rock grouted by calcareous sandstone, consisting of limestone boulders and not much sandstone or of quartz, gneiss, granite, mica slate, amphibolite, porphyry and serpentine. Nagelfluh is a partially powerful link in alpine, in particular Swiss molasse. The boulders protrude out of the rocks’ surface like nail heads.

An extract from “Unsere Baum-Veteranen” by Hartwig Goerss - Landbuch.

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