Gardening Magazine

Hedera Helix

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

 

Hedera helix(13/04/2014, Torquay, Devon)

Hedera helix (13/04/2014, Torquay, Devon)

Position: Full sun to shade

Flowering period: Late summer to late autumn

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 30m (climbing)

Eventual Spread: 10m

Hardiness: 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b

Family: Araliaceae

Hedera helix Juvenile Leaf (13/04/2014, Torquay, Devon)

Hedera helix Juvenile Leaf (13/04/2014, Torquay, Devon)

Hedera helix is a fast growing evergreen climbing shrub with a self clinging climbing growth habit. Its dark green leaves appear as two forms, adult and juvenile. Its juvenile leaves are palmately lobed with entire margins up to 10cm long and 7cm broad, these appear on creeping or climbing stems. Its adult leaves are cordate with entire margins, these appear on fertile flowering stems at the top of a climbing plant as it reaches light conditions. It climbs by means of aerial rootlets which appear from the stems and cling to suitable surfaces. Green/ yellow hermaphrodite flowers are produced in late summer to late autumn and are appear as umbles which are up to 5cm across. The fruit of the plant is a purple/ black berry which is up to 6mm across, these ripen in late winter. These seeds are dispersed by birds which have eaten the berries.

Hedera helix, commonly known as Common Ivy, English Ivy, European Ivy or Ivy is native to the most of Europe (including the UK) and Western Asia. In its native habitat it grows in deciduous woodlands and woodland edges appearing as a ground cover and clinging to tree trunks. It is labeled as an invasive species in a number of areas where it has been introduced, including many parts of the United States, parts of Australia and New Zealand.

Hedera helix Adult leaf (13/04/2014, Torquay, Devon)

Hedera helix Adult leaf (13/04/2014, Torquay, Devon)

The etymology of the binomial name  Hedera is derived from the ancient Latin name for Ivy. Helix is derived from the Greek meaning spiral or twisted.

The landscape architect may find Hedera helix useful for planting on banks and slopes to stabilise them. It may form a component of a native (UK) woodland understory planting mix. It will tolerate poor urban conditions and is drought tolerant.

Hedera helix Berries (13/04/2014, Torquay, Devon)

Hedera helix Berries (13/04/2014, Torquay, Devon)

Ecologically, Hedera helix flowers are attractive to bees, flies and species of lepidoptera in late autumn. Its fruit are attractive to birds.

Hedera helix prefers moist, fertile, humus rich, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Hedera helix requires little maintenance. Pruning of the growing tips may be required to stop it spreading into unwanted areas. If it is used as a ground cover at the base of trees, shoots which start to climb the trunk of the tree should be cut to ground level once a year.


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