ivy

Hedera helix
infestation (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
climbing habit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
shrubby habit (Photo: Forest and Kim Starr, USGS)
older climbing stem with short aerial roots (Photo: Forest and Kim Starr, USGS)
minutely hairy younger stem (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
five-lobed lower leaves (Photo: Forest and Kim Starr, USGS)
three-lobed lower leaves (Photo: Forest and Kim Starr, USGS)
entire upper leaves with wavy margins (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
flower buds and immature fruit (Photo: Forest and Kim Starr, USGS)
close-up of flowers (Photo: Greg Jordan)
close-up of mature fruit (Photo: Forest and Kim Starr, USGS)
cultivar with variegated leaves (Photo: Forest and Kim Starr, USGS)
Vine
Alternate
Simple
Yellow
Cream
Variegated
Green

A climber or creeper that may occasionally become somewhat shrubby with age. Its stems are somewhat woody and produce short aerial roots that attach to supporting structures. Its leaves (3-15 cm long and 3-10 cm wide) are either shallowly 3-5 lobed or entire. These leaves have dark green and glossy upper surfaces that are sometimes variegated with white or cream. Its tiny five yellowish-green flowers are arranged in clusters, with all of the flower stalks emanating from the same point. Its rounded fruit (5-10 mm across) resembles a berry and turns from green to dull bluish-purple or black as it matures.

Common names 
Also known as: ivy, common ivy, English ivy, needlepoint ivy, ripple ivy,
Family 
Araliaceae
Deciduous 
No
Flowering time 
Summer - Spring
Native/Exotic 
Exotic
Origin 
Native to northern Africa, the Azores, the Madeira Islands, the Canary Islands, all of Europe and western Asia.
Notifiable 
No
Council declaration 
SIL – Special Investigation List
Known distribution 

Widely naturalised in Australia, but primarily found in the southern parts of the country. It is common in eastern New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, south-eastern South Australia and south-western Western Australia. Also sparingly naturalised in south-eastern Queensland.

Habitat 

A weed of watercourses and riparian areas, wetlands, open woodlands, closed forests, forest margins, roadsides, gardens and pine plantations in temperate regions.

Habit 

A climber or creeper that may occasionally become somewhat shrubby with age. When climbing up tall vegetation in can reach up to 20 m or more in height.

Impact and control methods 

Ivy (Hedera helix) is regarded as a significant environmental weed in Victoria, the ACT, South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania. It is listed as a priority environmental weed in five Natural Resource Management regions and is actively managed by community groups in Victoria and Tasmania. This species prefers moist sheltered areas and is extremely tolerant of deep shade. It spreads rapidly, blanketing the ground in a thick mat of vegetation. This excludes light, eventually choking out other species and preventing their germination. Ivy (Hedera helix) also grows thickly up over tall tress and shrubs, smothering them and even causing them to fall over under its weight.

Stem and leaves 

Its stems are somewhat woody and produce short aerial roots (i.e. rootlets) that attach to supporting structures. Younger stems are green to purplish or burgundy red in colour and hairless (i.e. glabrous) or minutely hairy (i.e. sparsely pubescent). The leaves are alternately arranged along the stems and borne on stalks (i.e. petioles) 2.5-11 cm long. They vary from egg-shaped in outline (i.e. ovate) with entire or wavy margins to heart-shaped (i.e. cordate) or shallowly 3-5 lobed (i.e. palmately lobed). In general, the lower leaves tend to be lobed and the upper leaves tend to be entire. These leaves (3-15 cm long and 3-10 cm wide) are hairless or nearly so (i.e. glabrous or glabrescent) with rounded to pointed tips (i.e. obtuse to acuminate apices). Their upper surfaces are slightly darker green and glossier than their undersides, and they are sometimes variegated with white or cream.

Flowers and fruits 

The small flowers are arranged in clusters, with all of the flower stalks (i.e. pedicels) emanating from the same point (i.e. in umbels). One or more of these clusters may be arranged into larger branched clusters (i.e. into a raceme or panicle of umbels). Each flower has five yellowish-green petals (3-5 mm long), but no obvious sepals. They also have five stamens and five partially fused styles (about 1.5 mm long). Flowering occurs mainly during summer. The fruit resembles a berry (it is actually a drupe) and turns from green to dull bluish-purple or black as it matures. These rounded fruit (5-10 mm across) contain 2-3 whitish seeds. They are normally present during winter and early spring (i.e. from June to September).

Reproduction and dispersal 

This species reproduces by seed and also vegetatively by a variety of methods. Stems that come into contact with the soil develop roots and can form into new plants (a process called layering). Stem segments that have been separated from the rest of the plant can also take root. Creeping underground stems (i.e. rhizomes) may also be produced.The seeds are dispersed by birds and other animals that eat the fruit. Seeds and pieces of stem can also be spread in dumped garden waste.

Similar species 

Ivy (Hedera helix) can be confused with some other weedy vines when not in flower, including ivy groundsel (Delairea odorata), climbing groundsel (Senecio angulatus), canary creeper (Senecio tamoides) and Natal ivy (Senecio macroglossus). However, none of these species produce short aerial roots (i.e. rootlets) from their stems. When in flower they can all be easily distinguished from ivy (Hedera helix) by their clusters of bright yellow flowers and small wind-blown seeds topped with hairs.