(Hedera helix)


lobed leaves

unlobed leaves
(sometimes unlobed)

flowers, fruits and unlobed leaves
flowers, fruits and unlobed leaves


distribution map

The nearly hairless, alternate leaves, 4 - 10 cm long, are of two kinds. Those on creeping or climbing stems have 3 - 5 palm-like lobes whilst those of the flowering stems are oval and unlobed. The leaf stalks are up to 10cm long.

ID check

Ivy is a woody, native, evergreen which may climb up to 30 m in woodland by means of short roots along the stem which grip any rough surface - walls or tree bark.

The flowers are arranged in umbrella-like clusters of many 5-petalled yellowish-green flowers which do not open until September.

The fruits, green at first, persist through the winter turning blue-black when ripe in the late spring or early summer.


  • Ivy is not a parasite: the roots on the stem do not penetrate the living tissues of the tree it climbs.

  • It is one of the main food plants of the holly blue butterfly: the caterpillars eat flower buds, flowers and young fruits.

  • The open flowers provide autumn nectar for many insects, especially flies, whilst the fruits are adored by birds, particularly blackbirds and thrushes.

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