A 3,000-year-old tree in Britain is undergoing a 'sex change'

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It's never too late in life to make a change, even if you're a 3,000-year-old tree. In Britain, one 3,000-year-old tree is reportedly undergoing a "sex change," the Telegraph reports.

The Fortingall Yew in Perthshire, which estimates suggest is between 3,000 and 5,000 years old, is regarded as a male tree because of the fact it produces pollen – unlike female yews, which produce distinctive seed-bearing red berries.

But botanists have spoken of their surprise after finding three red berries on a branch of the yew this year - in signs at least part of the male tree is becoming female.


As The Guardian reports, it's actually not all too remarkable that the tree is changing sexes. Dr. Max Coleman (of the Royal Botanical Garden) told them that yew trees have been known to change sexes, but what makes this a significant news story is that it's this tree that happens to be changing sexes.

The Fortingall Yew, another Guardian piece explains, is one of the "oldest living things in Europe," and thought to be perhaps the oldest tree in all of Britain. That's why botanists are interested, not the sex change. Only the bloggers care about the sex change part. Horny bloggers!

Here's a little about how it changed sexes, via the Guardian:

Many tree species contain both male and female parts (with systems to stop it pollinating itself) but some species, such as holly or yew, are usually only male or female. A few species, such as ash, routinely switch sex, producing male flowers one year and female fruits another. If a tree produces a large crop of seeds one year, it may switch the following year to male flowers to reduce the strain on itself.

Every day is a chance to learn something new.

Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.