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11. H. He'lix L. The common Ivy.“ Identification Lin. Sp., 292.; Dec. Prod., 4. p. 261. ; Don's Mill., 3. p. 391. ; Baxter's Brit. Fl. Pl., p. 32.; Lodd. Cat., ed. 1836. Derivation. Hèlix is derived from eileo, to encompass, or turn round ; in reference to the clasping
stems, which, however, are not twining. Spec. Char., 8c. Stems climbing, throwing out roots from their sides to any
object next which they may be placed. Leaves coriaceous, glabrous, shining, with 5 angular lobes ; those on the old upright and rectangular branches, which form the tops of the plants, ovate, acute, quite entire.
Umbels simple, pubescent. (Don's Mill., iii. p. 391.) A native of Europe.
yellow variegated leaves, in gardens.
Willd. Berol. Mag., ii. p. 170. t. 5. f. 1.;
Floral leaves subcordate ;
duction into Britain is uncertain. H. H. 23 chrysocarpa Dec., H. poética C. Bauh., H. chrysocarpos
Dalech., H. Dionýsias J. Bauh., H. Hèlix Wall., is a native of the north of India, with yellow fruit. It differs from the common ivy in its yellow fruit, and in being of more gigantic growth; in the leaves being more cuneated at the base; and in the pedicels being
scaly. There is a plant in the Horticultural Society's Garden. The varieties in British gardens, additional to the above, are:
L H. H. 4 foliis argénteis Lodd. Cat. The Silver-striped Ivy.
variation is merely an extension of the flowering shoots, which are
like the common ivy. Description. The common ivy is a rooting climber : but, when these roots are opposed by a hard substance which they cannot penetrate, they dilate, and attach themselves to it, by close pressure on the rough particles of its surface. The dilatation of the fibril is sometimes so considerable as to form a disk above a quarter of an inch in diameter; and this dilatation is greater or less, in proportion to the roughnesss or smoothness of the surface which it presses against : because, when the surface is nearly smooth, the projecting points, to which alone the disk of the fibril can attach itself, must necessarily be small, and not such as to afford a firm hold; and hence a greater number of them are required to be included under each disk, to sustain the weight of the plant. On very smooth surfaces, such as that of a house or a wall that has
been stuccoed, or smoothly plastered, no dilatation of the fibril is sufficient to cause the ivy to adhere; and hence, in such situations, it always falls down, either when rendered somewhat heavier by rain or snow, or when acted on by wind. Against such walls, therefore, trelliswork ought to be fixed; or the main shoots of the ivy may be nailed, like those of any other wall tree. To common brick or stonework, or the rough bark of trees, the fibrils adhere readily. In the crevices of rocks, and on the surface of the ground, they become roots; but it is only when this is the case that they can afford any nourishment to the plant; a fact easily proved, by cutting through the stem of a plant of ivy at the foot of a wall or a tree, to which it may be attached ; when, it will be found, the ivy speedily dies. When ivy trails on the ground, it roots into it, and grows vigorously, but rarely flowers; and in this state it has acquired the name of the barren, or creeping, ivy. When it climbs up trees, or is in any situation where it is much shaded, it seldom, if ever, flowers, until it has grown so high as to be subject to the direct influence of the sun. Hence, on branchy-headed trees, it is seldom seen in a flowering state, until it has reached their uppermost branches, and partially destroyed them. Ivy flowers soonest when grown against a wall, and fully exposed to the light. Whatever support it may have, when it has reached the summit the branches shorten, and become woody, forming themselves into large, shrubby, bushy heads; and the leaves become entire, taking more of an oval shape, and no longer being lobed like the lower ones. In this state, the plant will flower freely, and will continue growing like a shrub for many years, producing no leaves but such as are nearly oval, and showing no inclination to creep, or to throw out roots. Hence, we often see the appearance of an ivy hedge 5 ft. or 6 ft. in height on the top of an old ivied wall. The flowers of the ivy are of a yellowish or greenish white: they appear in the end of September, and continue expanded through the months of October and November: they are odoriferous, and contain a good deal of honey ; on which account they are much frequented by bees and other insects, to which they afford a valuable support, as they are in perfection at a time when there are few other flowers. The berries increase in size during the winter, are full formed in February, and ripe in April, furnishing food for wild pigeons, blackbirds, thrushes, &c., in the spring. When the berry is ripe, it is succulent with a purple juice; but afterwards it becomes coriaceous, dry, and shrivels into a somewhat five-angled figure; thus beautifully harmonising with the lower leaves. The common ivy will grow to the tops of trees nearly 100 ft. in height: but it is doubtful whether the Irish ivy will attain the same elevation, though it grows with much greater vigour than the common sort when young;
Both varieties continue growing during winter; and, in shady situations, throughout the year. Hence, rooted plants of Irish ivy, placed in good soil, at the base of a wall 10 ft. high, will reach its top in three years ; and those of the common ivy in five years; but after it has attained 15 ft. or 20 ft., its growth is comparatively slow, unless it be against the warm walls of a dwelling-house; when it will cover a gable-end, having chimney flues in it, in 5 or 6 years; a circumstance which may be turned to the greatest advantage in towns. The duration of the ivy is very great: judging from some of the plants against ruined castles and abbeys, we should suppose them to be two or three centuries old. The stems sometimes are found, in such situations, 10 in. or 12 in. in diameter at 1 ft. from the ground. The seeds of ivy resemble swollen grains of wheat, and, as they pass through birds of the thrush family unaltered in shape, they are frequently found scattered on the ground. Ray, in his Catalogus Plantarum rariorum Angliæ et Insularum adjacentium, says that hence have arisen the stories of wheat having been rained down. The chewed seeds have an acrimonious taste. The goldenleaved variety, when it thrives, is a splendid plant, appearing in spring, after it has made its new leaves, like an immense mass of yellow flowers. There is a plant of this variety on the back of one of the hot-houses in the Hammersmith Nursery, which has reached the top of the wall, and covered a stack of
chimneys some feet higher, forming a striking object in May and June from the public road. On a ruin, or on a dark pine tree, this variety, mixed with the common sort, would have a fine effect, by the brilliant contrast which it would produce.
Geography. The ivy is a native of Europe, from the south of Sweden to the Mediterranean Sea, and from Ireland to Siberia; but only in woods, and under the shelter of trees and bushes, in either the colder or the hotter districts of this extensive region. It is found in the north of Africa, the west of Asia, the mountainous regions of India, and also in Japan and China, but not in North or South America, or in Australia. The variety with yellow berries, Royle informs us," is the most common in the Himalayas, and may be seen clinging to the rock, and clasping the oak; affording, from its pleasing associations, glad recognition to the European traveller.” (Illust., p. 233.) In Britain, the ivy is always found growing in a substantial soil, where it can be amply supplied with nourishment, and where its roots can penetrate to such a depth as to be able to obtain abundant moisture for the leaves, when the plant has attained its greatest height, and is in a flowering state.
History. The ivy was well known to the Greeks and Romans, and there are many mythological and traditional allusions to it in the writings of Greek and Roman authors. Its Greek names were Kissos and Kittos, from Kissos, or Cissus, the name of a boy whom Bacchus is said to have changed into it. By the Romans it was called Hedera ; which name has been adopted by modern botanists. In old French its name is Hierre. It is mentioned by Gerard, as growing in a wild state, and on the sides of houses; but it was probably not propagated as a garden plant till some time afterwards, when towns extended into the country, and it became a mark of refinement to create allusions to the latter in the former, by planting such evergreens as would withstand the close air and smoke of cities. The plant is now in general demand throughout all those parts of Europe where it will grow freely against a wall; but more than any where in the neighbourhood of London. In North America, in the time of Kalm, he found only one plant, which was trained against a house, during the whole of his travels in that country; but the principal varieties are now propagated in all the American nurseries.
Properties and Uses. The whole plant is aromatic; and a very fragrant resin exudes from the old stems when bruised, from which is obtained the chemical principle hederine. Ivy was formerly included in the British Materia medica, as it was in that of the Greeks, and still is in that of India. The berries are emetic and purgative; and the substance called hederine, which is now in use in India, is said to be aperient, resolvative, and balsamic. The berries, as already observed, are greedily eaten by several birds. Sheep and deer are fond of the leaves and small branches, which, before the introduction of green crops, afforded a useful resource when the ground was covered with snow. Cato directs that, in a scarcity of hay, or the dried shoots of trees, cattle should be foddered with the green branches of ivy. The wood is soft and porous; and, in Switzerland, and in other parts of the south of Europe, it is used by the turner; and, in thin slices, to filter liquids. The roots are employed by leathercutters to whet their knives on. Cato and Pliny attribute a singular property to the wood of the ivy; and say that, by its filtrating powers, it can separate wine from water. According to these authors, if a cup of ivy wood be filled with wine that has been adulterated with water, the wine will find its way through the pores of the wood, and the water alone will remain in the cup. In the Nouveau Du Hamel, it is mentioned that this experiment was tried by a person worthy of confidence, and that he found the very reverse take place; the water filtering through, and the wine remaining in the cup. It is possible that something of the kind may take place, which may be accounted for on Du Trochet’s principles of Endosmose and Exosmose (see Gard Mag., vol. iii. p. 78.); but it is more probable that the liquor merely exudes through the pores of the wood, without any separa
tion of its component parts; some of it remaining in the cup when the pores were choked up, and the portion exuded having the appearance of water, from its colouring matter having been absorbed by the wood. The ivy, for trying this experiment, or for using in any way as a filter, must be newly cut, as it loses its filtering properties when quite dry. A decoction of the leaves dyes hair black; and it is said to form a principal ingredient in the compositions sold to prevent hair from turning grey. The leaves of mulberry trees that have had ivy round them are said to destroy the silkworms that feed on them ; and the juice of the plant,applied to the nostrils, is supposed to cure headachs. Many other properties were attributed to this plant by the ancients ; but, for medicinal purposes, it appears at present to have fallen into disuse. The great use of the ivy, in modern times, is as an ornamental shrub. When the geometrical style of gardening prevailed, it was much employed to train over frames of wire or lattice-work, formed by the wire-worker or joiner into architectural or sculptural shapes; arbours, colonnades, and the figures of men and animals, being much more rapidly produced in this manner, than by the slow growth of the yew or the box. At present, forms of this kind are no longer in use; but a plant of ivy trained to a pole, and allowed to branch out at its summit, forms a very striking object in small gardens. For covering naked walls, rocks, or ruins, or communicating an evergreen rural appearance to any part of a town or suburban garden, no plant whatever equals the ivy; though, in situations subject to the smoke of coal, it is apt to get naked below, and requires to be partially cut down, or to have young plants planted at the root of the old ones, to fill up the naked places, every four or five years. A very singular effect produced by ivy occurs in the approach road to Warwick Castle. The road is cut through a solid bed of sandstone rock ; and its sides are, in some places, upwards of 12 ft. high, if we recollect rightly, and quite perpendicular and smooth. Ivy has been planted on the upper surface of the ground, which forms the summit of these perpendicular walls of rock, in order, as it would appear, that it might creep down and cover their face. Instead of creeping, however, the ivy has grown over, without attaching itself; and its long, pendulous, matted shoots, which, in 1831, not only reached the approach road, but actually trailed on it, waving to and fro with the wind, might be compared to an immense sheet of water falling over a perpendicular rock. Over chalk cliffs, ivy sometimes hangs down in perpendicular shoots from the surface; but, from the numerous interstices in the chalk, it is generally able occasionally to attach itself; and hence it appears in varied tufts and festoons, which, in old chalk-pits, as, for example, at Ingress Park, near Greenhithe, have an effect that is at once strikingly beautitul and picturesque. In close shrubberies, in small gardens, or even in large ones, where neither grass nor any other green plant will grow on the surface, the ivy forms a clothing of perpetual verdure. Trained against espaliers, latticework, iron hurdles, or wire frames, it forms, in a very short time, most beautiful evergreen walls, or hedges, for the shelter or separation of flower-gardens. In short, there is no evergreen shrub capable of being applied to so many important uses as the common ivy; and no garden (in a climate where it will stand the open air), whether large or small, can dispense with it. About London, it is raised in immense quantities in pots, and trained to the height of from 6 ft. tol2 ft.on stakes ; so that, at any season of the year, a hedge may be formed of it, or a naked space covered with it, at an incredibly short notice. In the streets of London, a house may be built from the foundations in the course of three or four weeks; and, by placing pots of ivy in the balconies of the different windows, the whole front, in one day, may be covered with evergreen leaves as effectually as if it were an old building, in a secluded rural situation. One valuable use to which the ivy may be applied in street houses in towns is, to form external framings to the windows instead of architraves. In the interminable lines of naked windows in the monotonous brick houses built about 50 years ago, which form the majority of the London streets at the west end of the town, the ivy affords a resource which any householder of taste may turn to a very good account. He has only to form projecting architraves of wire to his windows, and to place a pot of ivy in his window sills, or in a small balcony at the base of each jamb; taking care to fix the pots securely, and to make a provision for supplying them regularly with water. "In rooms, the ivy, when planted in boxes, and properly treated, forms a rustic screen, either for excluding the light of the sun during the day, or of a lamp or chandelier at night; and, in very large drawingrooms, plants in boxes or vases, trained on wire parasols or espaliers, such as those recoinmended for roses (see figs. 534. and 535.), will form a rustic canopy for small groups of parties, who may seat themselves under its shade, in the same manner as parties sit under orange trees in the public rooms of Berlin, and of other cities of the Continent. Where the view from the window of a town house is contracted or disagreeable, it may always be improved by plants of ivy, planted in boxes, and trained on espaliers, being placed within the room, at a sufficient distance from the window to prevent them from excluding the light, and yet sufficiently near to serve as a screen; or, by so disposing of plants on the outside as to conceal or disguise the disagreeable objects, and create an allusion to the country. One great advantage of the in small and suburban gardens, is, that by its berries it attracts the birds in early spring; and by its dense foliage it forms excellent situations for nests. A number of birds build in it, from the blackbird and thrush to the blackcap and the sparrow, and even to the tomtit and wren. This plant is generally considered as highly injurious to trees, where it has climbed up and covered their stems. “ The ivy,” Gilpin observes," has a root of his own, and draws nourishment from the ground; but his character is misrepresented, if his little feelers have not other purposes than that of merely showing an attachment to his potent neighbour. 'Shakspeare roundly asserts that he makes a property of him:
GILPIN, For. Scen., i. p. 15. The injurious effect of the ivy on trees has, however, been denied by various persons, and, among others, by Mr. Repton, who, in a paper on the subject in the Lin. Trans., contends that it is useful, by keeping their trunks warm. There can be no doubt but that, under certain circumstances, the warmth produced by a covering of ivy may be favourable to vegetation ; and, when its stems ascend the trunk of a tree in parallel lines, without creeping or winding round it, so as to form a kind of network over the bark, it may remain there for a number of years without doing the tree any material injury. After a certain period, however, a network never fails to be formed; and, as the trunk of the tree continues expanding, while this network remains stationary, the tree cannot fail to receive injury by being compressed by the stems of the ivy. Wherever this network is found on the smaller branches at the top of the tree, the tree is certain of being killed in a short time. In this case, as in most others, the opinions of the ancients and of modern foresters, both of which are unfavourable to the ivy, will be found to be correct. We have already mentioned that ivy on the trunks of trees may easily be killed, by cutting through its stems close to the ground; in addition to which, its stems ought to be pulled off, or loosened from the trunk and branches of the tree; but, in deciding on this operation, Evelyn's caution must not be forgotten, “ that trees long invested with it should not have it all at once removed, lest they should die from exposure to unaccustomed cold.”
A variety of opinions prevail as to the use or injury of ivy on habitable buildings. Where the walls are well built, and do not contain such crevices as to admit of the fibrils becoming roots, and, of course, increasing in size, and tending to rupture the masonry, the ivy must be a protection to the wall from the weather; and to the interior of the house, from the cold of winter and the heat of summer. On ruins it must also be a protection, except in cases where