Warning, you should not try to acquire nutrients from the English yew because you will probably die. See Toxicity. There are a select few organisms that get nutrition from the yew, they include a symbiotic fungus and birds which feed on yew arils. See Interactions for more information.

This page is actually dedicated to helping understand the processes the English yew, along with many other plants, uses to acquire the valuable nutrients it needs to live, grow, and reproduce. The main process in question here is photosynthesis. By producing its own food with photosynthesis, the English yew is classified as being autotrophic.

As you can see by the simplified photograph of photosynthesis to the right, photosynthetic plants use carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, water from the soil, and energy from sunlight to produce oxygen and glucose. There are some key structures and features within an autotrophic plant that are necessary for this process to be accomplished.

For more information about photosynthesis, click here.

Other photosynthetic plants include sage and highbush blueberry

The stomata are openings in the plant leaves which allow for gas exchange. They are formed by two specialized cells called guard cells. These cells open to allow the exchange of gasses, carbon and oxygen for example, and close to prevent the plant from drying out. In the picture to the left you can see the open and closed stomata.

Most people are familiar with chlorophyll because it is what give a plant its green coloration. Located in plant organelles called chloroplasts, Chlorophyll absorbs other wavelengths of visible light, like red or blue, while reflecting green wavelengths.

Vascular tissue:
The production of glucose molecules by photosynthesis would be useless if the glucose were not able to be transported from the leaves to other parts of the plant. Likewise, photosynthesis would not be possible if water could not be transported to the leaves where photosynthesis takes place. The two vital transport tissue are called xylem and phloem. Xylem is used to pull water up to the tallest parts of the tree from the roots and phloem is used to transport nutrients throughout the plant. There are several properties of water that allow this transport to take place. A couple other examples of plants with vascular tissue include foxglove and the maidenhair tree

Water is a polar molecule, which means it has a partially positive charge and a partially negative charge on different sides of the molecule. The partially positive charge is attracted to the partially negative molecules. This attraction allows for the properties of adhesion and cohesion. Adhesion when water molecules are attracted to other molecules and cohesion when they are attracted to each other. This bond between molecules is not very strong, but it is strong enough to allow for water transport to occur within plants

The English yew is an evergreen, which means it does not lose its leaves during the winter. Therefore the tree is able to participate in photosynthesis all throughout the year as opposed to deciduous trees which lose their leaves during the winter. Because they retain their leaves during the winter, their leaves are shaped like needles and are able to shed snow, prevent the limbs from breaking under this weight.