Ivy (Hedera )
JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
N.B. Although Ivy as a plant is immensely tolerant of heavy shade, it will only produce flowers where the sun directly shines on the plant or when its branches reach above their support. Ivy creeping along woodland floors and banks do not generally produce flowers.Flowers: September - November.
Ivy is our only native woody evergreen climber and it makes a wonderful contribution both to the beauty of our woodlands and its ecology.
If you examine a length of Ivy-stem closely you will notice that there are a few wriggly little bits extruding from the bark at intervals. These fibres have the ability to adapt themselves either for climbing or growing roots. They have a small disk at the end, which will fix itself firmly to bark, wall or any other surface by means of which the plant will climb. Contrary to popular opinion Ivy is not a parasite, but feeds itself through its own roots and photo-synthesis. The only way Ivy may be detrimental to a tree is by using water from the soil below and light from the sky. As a general rule, Ivy is not harmful to a healthy tree.
Ivy has two different kinds of glossy shiny leaves. The more common palmate leaves, which can be seen wherever Ivy scrambles along the woodland floor or climbs in the shade and the heart-shaped to elliptical or ovate leaves on its flowering branches. They are often revered to as juvenile and adult leaves. When the plant has reached a position in sufficient light, it grows a whole new bush of flowering stems with these adult leaves. Each stem is 1-2 feet long with flowers at the end of every shoot. These stems have to support themselves and on examination it will be found that there is more wood and less pith in them than in the climbing stems.
The yellowish-green (3-9 mm) flowers are borne in rather dense umbels. They have 5 petals and 5 stamens with yellow anthers. The flowers have an abundance of nectar and are an important bee food in the autumn.
The berry-like fruit (6-8mm) is green at first, then turns brown and finally deep purple/black in the early spring, when it is ripe. It has 2-5 seeds.
The berries are poisonous to human beings, but birds love them for their high fat content in the chilly months when there is little food about. When the berries are rubbed they release an aromatic and slightly resinous odour and they have a bitter and nauseous taste.