Plants are remarkable things and offer us so much but did you know that you can supply us with yew clippings for cancer treating drugs?
We’ve been collecting yew clippings for cancer treating drugs [chemotherapy] for many years now and at Cleeve Nursery we act as a collection centre for local gardeners. This enables the Yorkshire based company that starts the process of extracting the active ingredient to collect a lot from one location. In 2014 we collected a little under a tonne! That’s a lot of fresh yew clippings! But even a ton yields just 200 gm of the drug so the more we collect the more that can be produced!
What we are looking
What we are looking for is hedge or topiary clippings from yew that is cut every year. So it is only fresh young clippings that are less than a year old that are needed as these contain the highest concentration of the active ingredient. Clippings should be kept fresh and cool and not heaped up so that they begin to decompose. They must also be free of contaminants such as gravel, weeds and other non-yew hedge plants. So when cutting your hedge or favourite topiary tree, lay a sheet underneath to catch the clippings as they fall.
We act as a collection centre [there are several throughout the country] during all of August and September but we do not collect yew clippings for cancer treating drugs at other times of the year. We stock pile the clippings in one of our large barns in our production nursery until we have enough to warrant a collection.
Bring your yew clippings for cancer treating drugs in to us in your own large bags. It may be possible for you to collect those bags a few days later after we have emptied your clippings onto our cool barn floor.
Who collects from us?
The yew clippings for cancer treating drugs that we collect go to Friendship Estates Ltd. If you are the owner of a large estate [lucky you!], have a lot of yew hedging and topiary yew trees and want to get involved it may be better for you to contact them direct. I’m sure that, if you have a large quantity, they will be happy to collect from your premises. At Cleeve Nursery we accept yew clippings at our garden centre.
We get a small payment per kilo of good clean yew clippings that we supply Friendship Estates. This we donate to Cancer Research UK and in 2014 we accumulated £300 to donate thanks to local gardener’s generosity!
In 2015 – when growth was less strong – we raised £200 to donate to Cancer Research UK.
The technical stuff
For the technically minded the yew we are interested in Taxus baccata and the hybrid Taxus x media and all the named varieties of both. It is rather unlikely that you have anything but these in your garden.
If Phytophthora ramorum or P. kernoviae [“Sudden Oak Death”] have been found on plants in your garden then we cannot accept yew clippings from you.
The drug produced is often referred to as Taxacol or Taxotere but the active ingredient in yew is 10-Deacetylbaccatin III. This is most concentrated in the current season’s growth and its production is stimulated by regular clipping.