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Yew clippings to make chemotherapy

Find out about yew clippings and chemotherapy.

There are two chemotherapy drugs that were originally developed from yew trees:

  • docetaxel (Taxotere) was first made from the needles of the European yew tree
  • paclitaxel (Taxol)and was made from the bark of the Pacific yew tree

Both drugs can now be made synthetically in the laboratory. But the needles are still collected and used as part of the process of making the drugs.

The collecting season tends to be from July to September. The firms that collect the clippings will often put you on a register for the following year if you enquire outside these times.

We know of two companies that collect and sell on yew clippings to the drug industry.

Limehurst

This company are based in Chichester and have collected as far as Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Norfolk. They only collect yew clippings from hedges, not trees.

Telephone: 01243 555 110

Friendship Estates

Friendship Estates are based in Doncaster. They will travel all over the country depending on the amount of the clippings and whether there are other people with clippings in the same area. This company will collect clippings from trees and hedges although they need to have one season's growth only. This means the tree or hedge has to have been cut last year.

This company review each year whether they can collect clippings, so it is worth checking on their website to find out whether they are collecting this year. 

Telephone: 01302 700 220

Last reviewed: 
19 Jan 2015
  • Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology (10th edition)
    VT De Vita, TS Lawrence and SA Rosenberg
    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2015

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