Common Ivy, English Ivy(Hedera Helix)

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The Common Ivy, English Ivy is native species of most of Europe and western Asia. In numerous parts of the United States it has been designated as an invasive species and Oregon has banned its sale or import within the state. For those of you who shop online, this may create a problem within your own state. The quickest way to find out is contact the folks at and they will gladly assist you.

Hedera helix is an evergreen climbing plant, attaining growth heights on trees, cliffs, or walls, if available, of 60-90 feet. feet high where suitable surfaces (trees, cliffs, walls) are available, and also growing as ground cover where there are no vertical surfaces. It climbs by means of aerial rootlets which cling to the substrate.

The leaves are alternate, 2-4 inches long, they are of two types, with a leaf resembling an open hand; having lobes radiating from a common point and unlobed heart shaped adult leaves on fertile flowering stems exposed to full sun, usually high in the crowns of trees or the top of rock faces.

The flowers are produced from late summer until late autumn, individually small, in 1-2 inches in diameter with the flower cluster in which the flower stalks radiate from a common point , greenish-yellow, and very rich in nectar, an important late autumn food source for bees and other insects.

The fruit is purple-black to orange-yellow berries 6to 8mm diameter, ripening in late winter, and are an important food for many birds, though somewhat poisonous to humans.

There are one to five seeds in each berry, which are dispersed by birds eating the berries.

English Ivy is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant. Within its native range, the species is greatly valued for attracting wildlife. The flowers are visited by over 70 species of nectar-feeding insects, and the berries eaten by at least 16 species of birds. The foliage provides dense evergreen shelter, and is also browsed by deer

Over 30 cultivars have been selected for such traits as yellow, white, varicolored (e.g. 'Glacier'), and/or deeply lobed leaves (e.g. 'Sagittifolia'), purple stems, and slow, dwarfed growth.

Some parts of the world consider this plant as invasive and destructive in parts of Australia and the United States. Its sale, transport or propagation is banned in several places.

The English Ivy with reference to the comparative study of how different cultures view disease and how they treat or prevent it;has some merit.

Leaves and berries were taken orally as an expectorant for coughs and bronchitis. As far back as 1597, it was recommended that a water infused with ivy leaves as a wash for sore or watering eyes. One must be very careful with this practice because of the toxins contained in the plant. It should only be used under the guidance of a qualified practitioner. The leaves can cause severe contact dermatitis in some individuals.

Many parts of the world view H.helix as an invasive species. For example, in Australia it is considered a noxious weed across southern, particularly in the south-eastern region. New Zealand has it listed as a weed since 1990.

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Author: John Hoffman
I am a retired aerospace engineer that over the years has acquired a rewarding hobby of gardening and landscapes. Within the scope of my new hobby, I have been fortunate enough to further my freelance writing career under contract to and their pursuit of excellence.

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