Ivy is a woody, evergreen climber that grows up walls, fences and trees using tiny roots to cling to the substrate; in woods it can also carpet the ground. It has glossy, green leaves with three or five pointed lobes, which are often conspicuously veined.
It is a valuable plant for many species, especially insects filling up on nectar before hibernating. Ivy berries ripen in winter, when most other berries have already been eaten.
It grows in any soils and tolerates both deep shade and full sun. However, only shoots in the sun produce flowers. It is poisonous to humans. Many variegated ivies are available in garden centres.
Animals that benefit
- Holly blue caterpillar feeds on the flowers buds.
- Wasps, hornets, hoverflies, bumblebees, red admirals, small tortoiseshells and peacock butterflies, and other late-flying insects, drink the nectar.
- Many birds, such as blackbirds and thrushes, eat the berries.