By Alastair Culham
1st December – Hedera helix (Ivy)
1st day of #AdventBotany – Hedera helix – highly variable evergreen leaves symbolize eternity and resurrection. Ivy has a distinctive waxy sheen to the upper surface f the leaf. It’s reputed to keep witches away if you grow it up a house wall. Long associated with mid-winter festivals including Christmas because it stays green even in this cold dark season. All leaves in the first photo are from a single plant while each from the second is from a different taxon!
Ivy contains falcarinol, a natural fungicide.
Each day during advent there will be a new entry by @RNGherb or @DrMgoeswild
From Dr Stephen Jury – The first new molecular studies were done in Reading by Dr Pablo Vargas on a post-doc who continues this work as a member of staff in Madrid. He solved some problems and agreed with McAllister’s earlier unaccepted treatments that are now accepted in a book, following several important publications in botanical journals!
McAllister, H. & Marshall, R., (2017) Hedera: the complete guide. Peterborough, RHS.
See also our #AdventBotany2017 blog on victorian ivy cultivars.
I much appreciate the ring of ivies shown here. I do wonder though if all have been shown at their original size, as I’ve found that is one of the few characteristics – together with type of trichome – that sets the genetically different taxa apart morphologically. It is no wonder that half a century ago no more than 5 species where recognised…
The ring of ivy leaves was a photograph I took almost 10 years ago as part of my teaching for undergraduate botany. The two pictures together were designed to illustrate the risks of looking superficially at morphology. The photograph on the left is a set of leaves taken from a single plant at the same time while the photograph on the right (the ring of leaves) was sampled from 11 different ivy taxa from around the mediterranean. The actual size you see will depend on your screen but for reference the top leaf blade in the photo is about 3cm from tip to attachment of the petiole.
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