By Alastair Culham

1st December – Hedera helix (Ivy)

1st day of #AdventBotanyHedera helix – highly variable evergreen leaves symbolize eternity and resurrection. Ivy has a distinctive waxy sheen to the upper surface f the leaf. It’s reputed to keep witches away if you grow it up a house wall. Long associated with mid-winter festivals including Christmas because it stays green even in this cold dark season. All leaves in the first photo are from a single plant while each from the second is from a different taxon!

Ivy contains falcarinol, a natural fungicide.

Each day during advent there will be a new entry by @RNGherb or @DrMgoeswild

Editor’s note:

From Dr Stephen Jury – The first new molecular studies were done in Reading by Dr Pablo Vargas on a post-doc who continues this work as a member of staff in Madrid. He solved some problems and agreed with McAllister’s earlier unaccepted treatments that are now accepted in a book, following several important publications in botanical journals!

McAllister, H. & Marshall, R., (2017) Hedera: the complete guide. Peterborough, RHS.

See also our #AdventBotany2017  blog on victorian ivy cultivars.


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