March 16th, 2012

Latin:  Hedera helix

Irish:  Eidhneán


Ivy is a fully hardy, perennial, woody, evergreen that is native to Ireland.  It has a creeping or climbing growth habit, doing so by means of small roots borne along the climbing stems.  It has two kinds of leaves:  entire and diamond-shaped on flowering shoots and palmately 5-lobed on the barren ones.  It is also somewhat unusual in terms of flowering; its green flowers appearing during the winter months, usually October- December.  These develop into black berries.


Ivy has enjoyed a long association with the Christmas season and, before that, with various pagan myths and celebrations.  Evergreen plants, such as ivy, holly, and pine, stay green all year round. For many ancient peoples, this special property converted these plants into reminders of the promise of rebirth and eternal life.


The effect that ivy has on trees is a matter of ongoing debate. The consensus appears to be that ivy is unlikely to harm a healthy tree but it is often to be found covering trees that have died from other causes hence the harmful, killer connection. There is also general agreement that lots of ivy high up in the branches of a tree will form a wind-catching “sail” that, in stormy weather, may cause a tree with a poor root system to blow down.


Ivy is found at Castlewarden growing on trees, walls and on the ground in spinneys.

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