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English Ivy (Hedera helix L.)

Updated on June 9, 2012
English Ivy (Hedera helix L.) - growing indoors.
English Ivy (Hedera helix L.) - growing indoors. | Source

English ivy is also known as common ivy.

It is perennial semi parasitic plant that grows over tree trunks, walls, fences, old graveyards and other places that can be climbed by its branches.

All branches have its own small root system, that can attach to any coarse surface and go deeper, where any moisture can be leeched into the plant.

The Hedera helix and other ivy species are genus of the rare plants that have green leaf mass for the whole year.

The Ivy plant is successfully spawning itself with its branches and in some age, even if part of the plant is cut from the main shrub - it starts living on it's own.

This is of course NOT the way Hedera helix is procreating. After June, small yellow flowers bloom and later fruit small black or blue round berries. Their seeds are dropped to the soil, when the berry dries in Autumn. Berries are toxic to the liver, so you better be careful when gathering the herb, not to gather the fruits too.

Hedera helix as a herb

  • is used for treating inflammations on mucous tissues in the body (e.g. cough)
  • In small doses it acts as a vasodilator (widens blood vessels)
  • In bigger doses it acts as vasoconstrictor (shrinks blood vessels)
  • For external use, a decoction can be helpful to regenerate burned skin.
  • Infusion is helpful reduce too abundant bleeding in female period.
  • Diluted decoction is also good for rinsing tired running eyes.

Gathering and drying

Hedera helix leaf mass is gathered in blooming period. June to August. Drying is done in shadow, outdoors.

Dried leaf mass remains green, without aroma and with very bitter taste. The dried herb has pectin, malic acid, formic acid, alkaloids, falcarinol and inositol.

Warning: Because of the formic acid and falcarinol, some people are allergic to English ivy. Most often the same people are also allergic to carrots. So, precautions in using this herb must be taken. If you don't know you can have an allergy - apply the decoction on a small area of the skin. If there is irritation (red skin) - don't use this herb.

Preparing decoction.

1 tablespoon of the herb (dry and finely chopped) is boiled in 1 pint of water for 10 minutes. Cooled and then sifted.


1 small glass of this decoction 3 times a day before meals will help cough, bronchitis wheezing and will ease stomach discomfort in gastritis.

Diluted 1:5 decoction can be used for rinsing tired watery eyes.

English Ivy close-up
English Ivy close-up | Source


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    • m0rd0r profile image

      Stoill Barzakov 4 years ago from Sofia, Bulgaria

      I am very sorry to hear this Gigi. Please, check yourself with your MD for other allergies as well.

      Very often, people allergic to Ivy's formic acid also have mild allergy to carrots.

    • profile image

      Gigi 4 years ago

      Watch out for allergic reaction I have nasty blistering rash spreading for the past week from touching the ivy which I was not aware that I had an allergy to. I was put on a cream and given allergy meds. By the dr. It has not halted the spreading rash

    • profile image

      marsei 6 years ago

      I have a patch of ivy in the backyard. Now I can make use of it. I would especially enjoy an article about bulgaria, a little history and scenic parts if you're ever so inclined.


    • m0rd0r profile image

      Stoill Barzakov 6 years ago from Sofia, Bulgaria

      I am enviuous ;) can't make a plant to grow to the 8-th floor of the building and my 3 tries to make it grow in pot failed.

      Thanks for the vote.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      Wow! I have English ivy growing all over my house, all over the yard and my black walnut tree. Now, I finally can use it as an herb! Thanks so much for this information. Voted up and useful.