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Some facts about the common Ivy

January 4, 2012


The common ivy (Hedera Helix) while not a tree is a sacred plant of Wicca/Witchcraft,

Ivy is a wild evergreen climbing vine that attaches itself to the bark of trees, brickwork and other surfaces. It climbs by means of curious fibers that grow out from every part of the stem. These fibers resemble roots and have small disks at the end by which it attaches itself to the roughness of the bark or wall against which it grows and clings.

On meeting with soil or deep crevices, these fibers become true roots obtaining nourishment for its stem. The Ivy is therefore liable to injure the trees around which it twines by abstracting the trees life resources to feed its own.

It does provide evergreen shelter for birds in the winter, and many prefer ivy to other shrubs in which to build their nests.

Old ivy leaves were recommended for cattle food and although cows did not like them, sheep and deer will sometimes eat them in the winter. Turners in Southern Europe used the wood of the ivy, after it attained a sufficient size but being very soft it was seldom used in England except for whetting the knives of leather dressers.

The ivies greatest value is as an ornamental covering for unsightly buildings and is said to be the only plant that does not make walls damp. The leaves from the way they fall act as a curtain and form a sort of armour holding and absorbing the rain and moisture. Ivy is a very hardy plant and can withstand the severest of winters and frost; they also suffer little from smoke or the polluted air of manufacturing towns. The plant can live to a considerable age by which time its stem becomes woody and attains a fair size. Ivy trunks of a foot in diameter can be found where it has been left undisturbed for many years to grow and climbed over rocks and ruins.

There is a darker side to the ivy however for left to grow unchecked it becomes an aggressive invader that threatens all vegetation levels of forested and open areas, it will grow along the ground as well as up into the forest canopy. The dense growth and abundant leaves of the ivy form a thick canopy just above the ground that prevents sunlight from reaching other plants. Similarly the vines climbing up tree trunks spread out and surround branches and twigs, preventing most of the sunlight from reaching the leaves of the host tree. The loss of vigor in the host tree becomes evident within a few years, and is followed by death a few years later. The added weight of vines makes infested trees susceptible to blowing over during storms.

Protection against drunkenness

 Ivy leaves were thought to prevent intoxication and the binding of the brow with ivy was seen as a counterbalance to the vine. Old writers tell us that the effects of intoxication by wine are removed if a handful of ivy leaves are bruised and gently boiled in wine and drunk. In former days old English taverns bore a sign of an ivy bush over their doors, this to indicate the excellence of the liquor supplied within, hence the old saying “A good wine needs no bush”.

Fidelity and fertility (plant of life)

Ivy has been regarded as the emblem of fidelity, and of old, Greek priests would present a wreath of ivy to newly married persons. Today the ivy is still commonly associated with weddings, and is carried or worn by bridesmaids.


Ivy wherever it is grown or proliferates, guards against negativity and disaster.

Medicinal Uses:

Ivy is generally thought to be poisonous, but folklore tells us that flowers infused in wine restrains dysentery, and that the yellow berries are good for those who spit blood and against jaundice. To heal sunburn it is recommended to smear the face with tender ivy twigs boiled in butter.

Culpepper says of the ivy: “It is an enemy to the nerves and sinews taken inwardly, but most excellent outwardly.


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