Clippings for Cancer-fighting Drugs

Local News

Stockeld Park’s Summer Adventure (closing on the 7th September) has been a favourite attraction and the Yew Tree Maze has been given its seasonal clip to maintain its shape and form. However, there is more to the Maze than a puzzling adventure, twice a year the mountain of cuttings are collected by Friendship Estates to provide vital ingredients for cancer-fighting drugs.

Yew is known to be poisonous, but research carried out initially in the 1960’s found that Yew contains a chemical which is effective in treating various forms of cancer. The snowflake shaped maze was created by Adrian Fisher, a renowned maze designer, and was planted with more than 2400 trees in 2007. The maze has provided 3340 kg of clippings so far this year.

Peter Grant, owner of Stockeld Park comments:-

“We are collaborating with Friendship Estates, a family-run farm in Yorkshire that collects the clippings nationwide and supplies them to companies that can then extract key chemicals to make chemotherapy treatments for cancer patients. It is fantastic that the cuttings are being used for such a great cause instead of compost.”

Matthew Cooke of Friendship Estates says:-

“We are delighted to work with Stockeld Park Estate. In recent years the demand for dried Yew material has increased so we are always on the lookout for new suppliers to meet this demand. It is fantastic that natural Yew tree clippings can work hard to fight a variety of cancers.

We supply the clippings to a company on the continent who extract a compound (10-Deacetylbaccatin III) from the clippings using HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography). They then supply this compound to pharmaceutical companies who manufacture the drugs Paclitaxel and Docetaxel from it. Paclitaxel (Taxol ®) is a chemotherapy drug used to treat different cancers including ovarian, breast and non-small cell lung cancer. Docetaxel (Taxotere ®) is a chemotherapy drug used to treat different cancers including breast, prostate, non-small cell lung cancer, stomach and head and neck cancer”.

For those with Yew tree hedges wanting to work with Friendship Estates please call 01302 700 220 or visit

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