Open the Advanced Search

Irish Ivy

Hedera hibernica

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Araliaceae (Ivy)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
20 metres long
Cliffs, hedgerows, rocky places, scrub, walls, woodland.

Green, 5 petals
Small umbels of greenish-white flowers.
Bluish black berries.
An evergreen climber with 5-lobed, dark green, oval leaves. The leaves are untoothed and not usually marbled, unlike those of Common Ivy (Hedera helix). Irish Ivy has larger leaves than Common Ivy. The leaves are wider than longer (up to 12cm wide). The leaves are shiny and have greenish veins. Common Ivy has matt green leaves with whitish-coloured veins. Irish Ivy has a shorter shorter terminal lobe than that of Common Ivy.
Other Names:
Atlantic Ivy.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Hedera hibernica, commonly known as Atlantic ivy, is a species of ivy that is native to western and southwestern Europe, including the British Isles. It is a climbing or trailing evergreen vine that can grow up to 20 meters in height. The leaves are glossy and dark green, and the plant produces small greenish-yellow flowers in the fall, followed by black berries. Hedera hibernica is often used as a decorative plant, both indoors and outdoors, and can be trained to grow on walls, trellises, and other structures. It is also used in landscaping to cover large areas of ground or to provide a natural privacy barrier.


Irish Ivy (Hedera hibernica), also known as Atlantic or Hibernica ivy, is a robust and hardy climbing plant native to the Atlantic coast of Western Europe. It is commonly found in the wild in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and some parts of England. In recent years, it has also become a popular garden plant, prized for its attractive foliage and ease of cultivation.

Appearance and Characteristics

Irish Ivy is a vigorous, evergreen climbing plant that can grow up to 20 meters in height. It has thick, woody stems that can reach up to 15 centimeters in diameter, with numerous aerial roots that help it to cling to walls, trees, and other supports. The leaves of Irish Ivy are leathery, dark green, and glossy, with a distinctive shape that varies between juvenile and adult growth stages.

The young leaves are three-lobed, while the mature ones are usually five-lobed, with toothed edges. The flowers of Irish Ivy are small, greenish-yellow, and borne in clusters in late summer or early autumn. They are followed by black or purple berries that provide food for birds and other wildlife.

Benefits and Uses

Irish Ivy is a versatile plant that has many benefits and uses. In the wild, it provides important habitat and food for a variety of animals, including birds, insects, and mammals. It is also known to help purify the air by absorbing pollutants and releasing oxygen.

In gardens and landscaping, Irish Ivy is often used as a ground cover, as it quickly forms a dense mat of foliage that suppresses weeds and helps to retain moisture in the soil. It is also a popular choice for vertical gardening, as it can climb walls, trellises, and other structures, providing greenery and visual interest.

In addition to its ornamental value, Irish Ivy has also been used for medicinal and other purposes. It contains compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-cancer properties, and has been used traditionally to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory infections, rheumatism, and skin conditions.

Growing and Care

Irish Ivy is a relatively easy plant to grow and care for, making it an ideal choice for novice gardeners. It prefers a partially shaded to full shade location and well-drained soil, but can also tolerate a range of soil types and conditions. It is a hardy plant that can withstand cold temperatures and harsh winds, but may require some protection from intense sun or heat.

To propagate Irish Ivy, simply take stem cuttings from a healthy plant and place them in water or moist soil until they root. Once established, Irish Ivy can be trained to climb walls, trellises, and other structures by gently tying the stems to supports. Regular pruning can also help to keep the plant under control and prevent it from becoming too invasive.

More Information about the Irish Ivy

Irish Ivy is a great plant for those looking to attract wildlife to their garden, as it provides important shelter and food for birds, bees, and other pollinators. The dense foliage also provides a great nesting site for birds, who use it for protection from predators and the elements.

One of the advantages of Irish Ivy is its ability to grow in a variety of light conditions, from full shade to partial sun. It is also tolerant of a range of soil types, making it a versatile plant that can thrive in a variety of environments.

However, it is important to note that Irish Ivy can be invasive in some regions, particularly in areas where it is not native. It is important to research the plant's suitability for your particular area and take steps to prevent it from spreading uncontrollably.

In addition to its ornamental and ecological benefits, Irish Ivy has a long history of medicinal use. It has been used traditionally in Ireland and other parts of Europe to treat a variety of ailments, including coughs, colds, arthritis, and skin conditions.

Modern research has confirmed many of the traditional uses of Irish Ivy, and it is now recognized as having anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-cancer properties. Its extract is commonly used in cough and cold remedies, as it helps to relieve respiratory symptoms such as congestion and coughing.

It is important to note that Irish Ivy should not be consumed in large quantities or used as a self-treatment for serious medical conditions. As with any medicinal plant, it is best to consult a qualified healthcare professional before using it for medicinal purposes.

In terms of its cultivation, Irish Ivy is relatively low maintenance and can be grown in a variety of ways. It can be trained to climb walls and other structures, grown as a ground cover, or used in hanging baskets and containers. It can also be pruned and shaped to create topiary and other ornamental features.

Irish Ivy also has cultural significance and has been used in folklore and literature for centuries. In Celtic mythology, it was associated with the goddess Brigid, who was said to have been born under an ivy tree. It was also believed to have protective properties and was sometimes used to ward off evil spirits.

In literature, Irish Ivy has been featured in works such as J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," where it is described as growing on the walls of Minas Morgul, a fortress of the dark lord Sauron. In James Joyce's "Ulysses," it is mentioned as a common plant in the gardens of Dublin.

In addition to its cultural significance, Irish Ivy is also a popular plant for use in crafts and decorations. Its leaves and stems can be used in wreaths, garlands, and other decorative arrangements, and its berries can be used in seasonal displays.

Overall, Irish Ivy is a plant with a rich history and many uses. Whether grown for its ecological benefits, ornamental value, medicinal properties, cultural significance, or decorative potential, it is a versatile and valuable plant that deserves a place in any garden or landscape.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map