Growing yew trees for longbows, in sustainable yew groves ?

Excerpts from

Arboretum et fruticetum Britannicum; or, The trees and shrubs of Britain
by John Claudius Loudon, Published 1838


About Yew, Taxus Baccata

27 pages, 2066 to 2093, a great deal of that describing individual remarquable yew trees; and a few mentions of how to obtain straight trunks. Here are the excerpts.

"When drawn up by other trees, or being planted in masses, it takes somewhat the character of a fir; and may be found, thus circumstanced, whith a clear trunk 30ft. o 40 ft. high."



About bows, that no longer can be made from english yews
"Perhaps if yew trees were planted in masses, and drawn up to the height of 10 ft., with clear trunks, and cut down when they were of 6 in. or 8 in., in diameter, they might still be used for this manufacture."





    I've seen yews of this diameter, growing almost "in masses" with clear trunks, but they were closer to 30 ft. in height. See this video, which is not part of the book, obviously




  • "The yew is admirably adapted for underwood; because [...] it thrives under the shade and drip of other trees. When planted in masses by itself, the trees are drawn up with straight trunks like pines and firs [...] There are some fine yew groves, with tall clean trunk, at Combermere, in Cheshire; [...] the yew, like [...] various other trees, usually seen as immense bushes, might easily be grown so as to throw all their strength into a clean straight trunk."



    I didn't find anything else on the web about yew groves in Combermere (except here http://www.ancient-yew.org/userfiles/file/CheshireMarch2015.pdf were they guess it was in Combermere Abbey). No other trace... All destroyed long ago ? 

    Interestingly, preventive pruning doesn't even seem necessary. All you have to do is planting the tree in an environment that draws the tree up (in masses, or under the cover of other relatively tall trees). Simpler that what we read in  "Introduction to Cultural Ecology / Mark Q. Sutton, E. N. Anderson (second edition, 2010)",  http://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/24970245/1577152732/name/Cultural+Ecology.pdf, page 123 : 
    "In Nevada and elsewhere, Indians made bows from staves of juniper wood [...]  Planning far ahead, the Indians would select, prune, manage and nurture trees to grow straight and knot-free trunks that could provide bow staves, a process that could take decades. [...]. These trees were valuable resources that were constantly monitored, maintain and reused over hundred of years.[...] The same was done with yew trees in the Pacific Northwest and probably in old England"
    See the cited article by Philip J. Wilke (1988) here : http://escholarship.org/uc/item/4v5249w9.pdf 
    The process described is more complex that just cutting a slender trunk and splitting it into bow staves. It is adapted to big trunks of more or less bushy trees. I guess the process would be much different with tree trunks cultivated to be 6 in. to 8 in. in diameter and growing straight, tall, naturally knotfree as a result of their growth in the shade of other trees. 


    More information about yews (but not about bows) :
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-2745.2003.00783.x/epdf
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-2745.2003.00783.x/full
    British Ecological Society - Journal of Ecology 2003 - n° 229 - 91, 589 - 924



    texts
    Arboretum et fruticetum Britannicum; or, The trees and shrubs of Britain

    by John Claudius Loudon, Published 1838

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