English ivy, Hedera helix, grows everywhere and can destroy buildings. The ancient Greek god of wine and agriculture, Bacchus, is depicted wearing an English ivy wreath on his head. This is probably because the ancient Greeks used English ivy to prevent intoxication. English ivy was also a symbol of fidelity and ancient Greek priests presented newly weds with a wreath of it.
Ivy, common ivy
Native to Europe, English ivy is naturalized in North America. It grows southwards from Norway extending eastwards to Iran.
English ivy has woody stems and several branches covered in adhesive roots that attach themselves to surfaces. It can destroy buildings and in warm climates it can be extremely invasive .
Height: 30 meters (100 feet)
Width: 60 cm (24 inches)
Flowers: small, greenish-yellow, in dense, roundish clusters
Leaves: aromatic, three to five-lobed, dark green on the top side and pale green on the bottom, leathery, glossy, often with pale veins
Blooms: September to November
Fruits: pea-sized, purplish-black, poisonous
English ivy is very hardy and easy to cultivate. However, once firmly established, it is hard to eradicate.
Hardiness: USDA zones 5a-9b
Propagation: Cuttings. Place the cuttings in a glass with water and let roots develop (about ten days). Transplant the rooted cuttings in late spring or early autumn. Keep the soil moist in the first year.
Spacing: 30 cm (12 inches) for quick coverage. Otherwise, between 45- 60 cm (18-24 in)
Soil: Organically rich, well-drained
pH: 6.1-7.8 mildly alkaline is best
Exposure: Full sun to full shade
Garden Design: Grow English ivy as a ground cover, or create an evergreen wall. Use it to cover unsightly fences and buildings.
Saponins, flavonoids, sterols, trace elements and minerals
Anti-inflammatory, expectorant, analgesic, antispasmodic, antibiotic, antiviral, fungicide
MEDICINAL USE OF ENGLISH IVY
English ivy has a lot of saponins. For this reason, homemade preparations containing it should only be used externally. Since it can be harmful when taken internally in high doses, only use lab produced preparations internally.
It is excellent for the upper respiratory tract and helps to lose phlegm in the lugs and relieve coughs. It is the ideal medicinal plant for bronchitis.
Externally, it is good for some skin ailments such as cellulite, warts and sunburn. However, it can irritate the skin.
English ivy also believed to clean the air from toxins.
Used internally for:
- dry cough
Topic application for:
- warts and corns
Recommended daily dosage: 0.3 g dried herb
- Juice (for external use only!)
- Color restorer (to faded black fabrics)
- Corn and wart remover (soak an English ivy leaf in lemon juice for three hours, apply it as a bandage on the corn or wart. Repeat until the corn drops off)
Homemade preparations taken internally can cause skin and mucosa irritation, light-headedness, heart palpitation (tachycardia), headaches, vomiting, rarely diarrhea. Fresh English ivy leaves can irritate the skin. The fruits are poisonous.
Bühring, U. 2015. Alles über Heilpflanzen. 3rd ed. Stuttgart: Ulmer.
Phillips, R. Foy, N. 1990 Herbs. London: Pan Books Ltd