Ivy
(Hedera helix)
Simple
Lobed
Alternate

leaf

lobed leaves

unlobed leaves
(sometimes unlobed)

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

shrub

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.

Facts

  • 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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