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Ivy: Hedera Helix                                                                                                              N.O. Araliaceae

Parts used: Leaves, Berries. 

Medicinal actions and uses: Robinson tells that "... a drachm of the flowers decocted in wine restrains dysentery, and that the yellow berries are good for those who spit blood and against the jaundice..." Culpepper, on the other hand writes that "... it is an enemy to the nerves and sinews taken inwardly, but most excellent outwardly..."

The plant: Very hardy, long lived,(Ivy trunks a foot in diameter have been seen) common evergreen climber. The lower leaves are five lobed  but, when it reaches the top of whatever supports it, the leaves become ovate. The flowers are produced on this upper, unsupported part. The flowering branches being bushy and projecting a foot or two from the climbing stem with flowers on the end of every shoot. These flowers are small in clusters of nearly globular umbels and are of a yellowish green colour. They seldom open before the end of October and often continue to expand till late December. Though they have little scent they yield an abundance of nectar, thus providing food forbees when they can fnd little other.

Agricultural: Roman writers recommended Ivy leaves as cattle food, though cows do not relish them. Sheep and deer will browse them in winter. One aged farmer of my acquaintance would give Ivy to a sick cow as a tonic; especially one which had retained the afterbirth. He told me that they would eat readily as if they knew that there was something in the plant that they needed. [On the other hand it could be that to a beast who has just spent all winter in a byre, fed on hay, any fresh green stuff is a luxury not to be spurned.]