At the base are found vines and maize; on the lower slopes are green pastures, or wheat, barley and other kinds of corn; above are often forests of oak, ash, elm, &c.; and still higher the yew and the fir may be seen braving the climatic conditions.
All chlorophyll plants require light, but in very different degrees, as exemplified even in the United Kingdom by the shade-bearing beech and yew contrasted with the light-demanding larch and birch; and as with temperature so with light, every plant and even every organ has its optimum of illumination.
The little Skell descends from the uplands of Pateley Moor to the west a clear swift stream, traversing a valley clothed with woods, conspicuous among which are some ancient yew trees which may have sheltered the monks who first sought retreat here.
Without being very plentiful anywhere, it is generally distributed in suitable localities throughout its range - those localities being such as afford it a sufficient supply of food, consisting during the greater part of the year of insects, which it diligently seeks on the boles and larger limbs of old trees; but in autumn and winter it feeds on nuts, beech-mast, the stones of yew-berries and hard seeds.
Abies smithiana extends into Afghanistan; Abies webbiana forms dense forests at altitudes of 8000 to 12,000 ft., and ranges from Bhutan to Kashmir; several junipers and the common yew (Taxus baccata) also occur.
The trees chiefly used for the hedges, and the best for the purpose, are the hornbeam among deciduous trees, or the yew among evergreens.
Of the Coniferae, Podocarpus and Pinus longifolia alone descend to the tropical zone; Abies Brunoniana and Smithiana and the larch (a genus not seen in the western mountains) are found at 8000, and the yew and Picea Webbiana at 10,000 ft.
The commonest species of trees are such as grow in central Europe, namely, ash, fir, pine, beech, acacia, maple, birch, box, chestnut, laurel, holm-oak, poplar, elm, lime, yew, elder, willow, oak.
- This class-designation has been recently proposed to give emphasis to the isolated position of the genus Ginkgo (Salisburia) among the Gymnosperms. Ginkgo biloba, the maidenhair tree, has usually been placed by botanists in the Taxeae in the neighbourhood of the yew (Taxes), but the proposal by Eichler in 1852 to institute a special family, the Salisburieae, indicated a recognition of the existence of special characteristics which distinguish the genus from other members of the Coniferae.
The stamens of Araucaria and Agathis are peculiar in bearing several long and narrow free pollen-sacs; these may be compared with the sporangiophores of the horsetails (Equisetum); in Taxus (yew) the filament is attached to the centre of a large circular distal expansion, which bears several pollen-sacs on its under surface.
Finally in the yew, as a type of the family Taxeae, the ovules occur singly at the apex of a lateral branch, enclosed when ripe by a conspicuous red or yellow fleshy arillus, which serves as an attraction to animals, and thus aids in the dispersal of the seeds.
There are also giant yew-trees (Podocarpus) on the flanks of Ruwenzori and theMfumbirovolcanoes between 7000 and 9000 ft., but no junipers.
The forests contain a great variety of useful woods, affording excellent timber; among the commonest trees are the yellow wood, which is also one of the largest, belonging to the yew species; black iron wood; heavy, close-grained and durable stinkhout; melkhout, a white wood used for wheelwork; nieshout; and the assegai or Cape lancewood.
These were made of bronze backed with wood, or of yew covered with hide.
Among the wooden objects recovered from the relic beds were tubs, plates, ladles and spoons, a flail for threshing corn, a last for stretching shoes of hide, celt handles, clubs, long-bows of yew, floats and implements of fishing and a dug-out canoe 12 ft.
Fine oaks and beeches are numerous, and yew trees of great size and age are seen in some Kentish churchyards, as at Stansted, while the fine oak at Headcorn is also famous.
Where these are required to be narrow as well as lofty, holly, yew or beech is to be preferred; but, if there is sufficient space, the beautiful laurel and the bay may be employed where they will thrive.
This he accomplished by means of four wands of yew inscribed with ogam characters.
Cordaites, a tall plant (20-30 ft.) with yucca-like leaves, was related to the cycads and conifers; the catkin-like inflorescence, which bore yew-like berries, is called Cardiocarpus.
Among the peculiar species are the red bay or" Florida Mahogany," satinwood and cachibou, and the Florida yew and savin, both almost extinct.
While building their monastery the monks are said to have lived at first under an elm and then under seven yew trees called the Seven Sisters.
In the less exposed localities, on northern slopes and sheltered valleys, the European forms become more numerous, and we find species of alder, birch, ash, elm, maple, holly, hornbeam, Pyrus, &c. At greater elevations in the interior, besides the above are met Corylus, the common walnut, found wild throughout the range, horse chestnut, yew, also Picea Webbiana, Pinus, excelsa, Abies Smithiana, Cedrus Deodara (which tree does not grow spontaneously east of Kumaon), and several junipers.
The upper regions of Mt Elgon, Mt Debasien and Mt Agoro are clothed with forests of conifers - juniper and yew - and witch-hazels (Trichocladus).
The yew-like leaves spread laterally, and are of a deep green tint; the cones are furnished with tridentate bracts that project far beyond the scales.
Yew Testament Chronology.