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Hedera helix (common ivy)

A woody climber native to Europe, common ivy has long been collected for winter decorations and is an important food-source for wildlife.
hedera helix

Hedera helix (common ivy) at Kew

Species information

Scientific name: 

Hedera helix L.

Common name: 

common ivy, English ivy

Conservation status: 

Not assessed according to IUCN Red List criteria; widespread, abundant and not considered to be threatened.


Woodland and hedgerows.

Key Uses: 

Ornamental, medicinal, traditional uses.

Known hazards: 

Ingestion can cause mild gastrointestinal upset; may cause skin allergy on contact or via airborne allergens.


Genus: Hedera

About this species

Common ivy is a popular ornamental, valued for its ability to thrive in shady places, provide excellent groundcover and cover unsightly walls, sheds and tree stumps. Many cultivars are available, including variegated forms that can be used to brighten shady depths of winter gardens.

Long collected for winter decorations, common ivy is associated with Christmas and frequently features in festive designs. It is also an important source of food and shelter for wildlife during winter.

Ivy is not a parasite, does not normally damage sound buildings or walls, and is rarely a threat to healthy trees. Regular trimming can prevent ivy becoming too heavy, a problem that can be exacerbated by the additional weight of rain and snow.


Hedera poetica Salisb. (nom. illeg.), Hedera poetarum Bertol. (nom. illeg.), Hedera helix var. vulgaris DC., (nom. inval.)


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