flowers, fruits and unlobed leaves
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.
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.