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Common Ivy

Hedera helix

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Araliaceae (Ivy)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 metres long
Fields, gardens, hedgerows, roadsides, rocky places, towns, walls, woodland.

White, 5 petals
Common Ivy produces small, inconspicuous flowers that typically bloom in late summer to early autumn. The flowers are arranged in clusters known as umbels and are characterized by a greenish-yellow color. While individually not showy, the collective effect of the flowers can be visually appealing. The blossoms provide a valuable source of nectar for pollinators, including bees and other insects. Following pollination, small, dark berries develop in the fall, adding another dimension to the plant's overall appearance. The flowering stage is an essential part of the ivy's reproductive cycle, contributing to the formation of seeds and the plant's continued growth and spread.
The fruit of Common Ivy is a small, dark berry that typically matures in the autumn. These berries are spherical in shape and are known for their glossy appearance. The colour can vary, ranging from dark purple to black. Each berry contains seeds, and they are produced in clusters. While the berries are an important feature in the plant's reproductive cycle, it's worth noting that they are mildly toxic to humans but serve as a valuable food source for birds. The presence of these berries adds ornamental value to the ivy plant during the later part of the growing season. The globular berries appear from November to January in the UK.
The leaves of Common Ivy are generally dark green and evergreen, meaning they persist throughout the year. They exhibit a characteristic lobed structure, often with a palmate shape. The leaves can vary in size and shape, with some having more pronounced lobes than others. The surface of the leaves is typically waxy, contributing to their ability to resist water. Ivy leaves may also feature variegation in certain cultivars, displaying patterns of white, yellow, or lighter green. The foliage forms a dense and lush canopy, making Ivy a popular choice for ornamental and landscaping purposes.
Common Ivy does not have a particularly distinct or noticeable aroma. The plant is not known for producing fragrant flowers or leaves. The scent of Ivy is generally subtle and might not be readily perceptible to most people. While some individuals may detect a mild, earthy green scent when in close proximity to the plant, it is not a characteristic feature that stands out. The appeal of Common Ivy often lies more in its ornamental foliage and climbing habit rather than any notable fragrance.
Other Names:
English Ivy, European Ivy.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Hedera helix, commonly known as English ivy, is a species of ivy that is native to Europe and western Asia. It is a climbing or trailing evergreen vine that can grow up to 20 meters long. The leaves are glossy and dark green, and the plant produces small greenish-white flowers in the fall, followed by black berries. Hedera helix 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. Hedera helix is also known to be invasive in some areas and can outcompete native plants.


Common Ivy, also known as Hedera helix, is a popular climbing plant that is known for its versatility and durability. It is a common sight in many gardens and landscapes, as it can be trained to climb walls, trellises, and other structures, making it a great option for adding visual interest to a space.

One of the most notable features of Common Ivy is its evergreen leaves. The leaves are typically dark green and glossy, and they can grow up to 4 inches long. The leaves are also lobed, which gives them a unique shape that adds to the plant's visual appeal. The leaves are also known to be a good source of oxygen and help to reduce air pollution.

Common Ivy is also known for its hardiness and ability to thrive in a variety of conditions. It is able to tolerate a range of temperatures and can grow in both full sun and shade. It is also relatively low maintenance, requiring only occasional watering and pruning to keep it in shape.

Another great feature of Common Ivy is its ability to attract wildlife to your garden. Birds, butterflies, and bees are all attracted to the plant's nectar-rich flowers, making it a great option for those looking to create a wildlife-friendly garden.

In addition to its ornamental value, Common Ivy also has a number of medicinal uses. The leaves and roots of the plant have been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, as well as respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis.

Overall, Common Ivy is a great option for those looking to add visual interest and attract wildlife to their garden. Its hardiness and low maintenance requirements make it a great choice for both experienced gardeners and beginners alike. If you're looking to add a touch of green to your space, consider incorporating Common Ivy into your garden design.

However, it is important to note that Common Ivy can also be invasive and can cause damage to buildings and trees if not kept in check. It is important to monitor the growth of the plant and prune it regularly to prevent it from getting out of control.

When planting Common Ivy, it's best to start with a small cutting or a small plant and train it to grow on a trellis or wall. This will help to control the plant's growth and make it easier to manage. It is also important to provide proper support for the plant as it grows, such as a sturdy wall or trellis, to ensure that it does not damage any structures.

In terms of soil, Common Ivy prefers well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. It also prefers slightly acidic soil with a pH range between 5.5-6.5.

It is important to note that Common Ivy can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions to some people, so be careful when handling it.

In conclusion, Common Ivy is a versatile and hardy plant that can add visual interest to any garden. It's an excellent option for creating a wildlife-friendly garden and has many medicinal uses. However, it's important to keep an eye on its growth and prune it regularly to prevent it from becoming invasive. With proper care and management, Common Ivy can be a beautiful and beneficial addition to your garden.

Another thing to consider when planting Common Ivy is its suitability for different climates. This plant is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and it is hardy in USDA zones 4-9. This means that it can tolerate cold temperatures as low as -30°F, making it suitable for many regions. However, in areas with extremely hot summers, it may not perform well and may require more frequent watering.

When it comes to propagation, Common Ivy can be propagated through stem cuttings or layering. To propagate through stem cuttings, take a cutting from a healthy stem and remove the leaves from the bottom half. Dip the bottom of the cutting in rooting hormone and plant it in a well-draining soil mix. Keep the cutting in a warm, bright location and mist it regularly to maintain humidity. Rooting should occur in about a month.

Layering is another way to propagate Common Ivy. To do this, bend a stem to the ground and cover it with soil, leaving the tip exposed. Hold the stem in place with a rock or wire. Once roots have developed, the stem can be cut away from the parent plant and transplanted to a new location.

In summary, Common Ivy is a hardy and versatile plant that can thrive in many regions. It is an excellent option for adding visual interest to a garden and attracting wildlife. However, it should be monitored and pruned regularly to prevent it from becoming invasive, and it may not perform well in extremely hot climates. Common Ivy can be propagated through stem cuttings or layering and it is important to note that Common Ivy can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions to some people, so be careful when handling it.

30 Facts

  1. Scientific Name: Hedera helix is commonly known as Common Ivy, English Ivy, or just Ivy. It belongs to the family Araliaceae.

  2. Versatile Climber: Ivy is a vigorous climber that can grow vertically and horizontally, making it adaptable to various environments.

  3. Native Range: Common Ivy is native to Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa. It has been introduced to many other regions worldwide.

  4. Evergreen Foliage: Ivy is an evergreen plant, meaning it retains its leaves throughout the entire year.

  5. Leaf Shape: The leaves of Hedera helix are typically lobed and can vary in shape, often displaying a distinct palmate pattern.

  6. Cultural Symbolism: Ivy has been a symbol of fidelity, friendship, and eternity in various cultures, including ancient Greece and Rome.

  7. Climbing Mechanism: Ivy uses specialized aerial roots to attach itself to surfaces like walls and trees, aiding in its climbing ability.

  8. Habitat: It thrives in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, hedgerows, and disturbed areas. It's also a popular ornamental plant.

  9. Variegated Varieties: There are variegated cultivars of Common Ivy with leaves featuring different shades of green, white, and yellow.

  10. Wildlife Habitat: Ivy provides shelter and food for various wildlife, including birds, insects, and small mammals.

  11. Invasive Concerns: In some regions, Ivy is considered invasive as it can spread rapidly and outcompete native vegetation.

  12. Air Purification: Like many other plants, Ivy helps purify the air by removing pollutants and toxins.

  13. Historical Use: Ancient Greeks and Romans used Ivy to make wreaths for crowning the heads of winners in sports competitions and poets.

  14. Medicinal Uses: Traditional medicine has used Ivy extracts for various purposes, including respiratory ailments and wound healing.

  15. Topiary Art: Ivy is often used in topiary, the art of shaping and pruning plants into ornamental shapes.

  16. Symbolism in Literature: Ivy has been mentioned in literature and poetry, symbolizing different things such as strength, endurance, and love.

  17. Famous Gardens: Ivy is a common feature in many famous gardens and landscapes around the world.

  18. Tolerance to Shade: Ivy is known for its ability to thrive in shaded areas, making it a popular choice for gardens with limited sunlight.

  19. Hardy Plant: It is a hardy plant that can withstand a variety of weather conditions, including cold temperatures.

  20. Folklore: Ivy has been associated with various myths and folklore, often representing aspects of life, death, and rebirth.

  21. Leaf Structure: Ivy leaves have a waxy coating that helps them resist water and prevents damage from environmental factors.

  22. Berries: In the fall, Ivy produces small, dark berries that are mildly toxic to humans but provide a food source for birds.

  23. Purification Symbol: In some cultures, Ivy was believed to have purifying properties and was used in rituals and ceremonies.

  24. Erosion Control: Due to its dense growth and root structure, Ivy is sometimes used for erosion control on slopes.

  25. Cultural Adaptation: Ivy has been naturalized in many parts of the world and is often found in urban areas.

  26. Allergen Potential: Some people may be allergic to Ivy, experiencing skin irritation upon contact.

  27. Fossil Evidence: Fossil evidence suggests that Ivy has been around for millions of years, with some species dating back to the Paleogene period.

  28. Diversity: There are numerous species and cultivars of Ivy, contributing to its diversity in appearance and growth habits.

  29. Artistic Inspiration: Ivy has inspired artists and designers, appearing in various forms in paintings, sculptures, and other art pieces.

  30. Adaptive Growth: Ivy is known for its ability to adapt its growth pattern to its surroundings, making it a versatile and resilient plant.


Video 1: Common Ivy filmed in Chorley, Lancashire on the 3rd September 2022.


Video 2: Common Ivy filmed around the Chorley and Wigan area of Lancashire in January 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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