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Though its roots can creep between gaps in stonework causing severe damage to ancient ruins, stone walls, grave monuments and the like, ivy (Hedera helix, also known as English ivy, common ivy or just plain ivy) is of great importance to wildlife. Not only does it provide shelter and nesting places for insects, birds, bats and other beasties, it is also an important food source.

english ivy 1

Ivy’s flowering period begins in August and continues right through to November, sometimes later, and the flowers produce plentiful quantities of nectar and pollen. Over 70 species of nectar-loving insects feast on the flowers, including wasps and bumblebees, Red admiral, Small tortoiseshell and Peacock butterflies.

English ivy

Once the berries begin to ripen, they turn a deep purple-black colour, and provide an important winter source of food when most other berries are finished. At this time, the ivy becomes a favourite snacking place for lots of berry-eating birds, blackbirds and thrushes in particular, but also starlings and jays, finches and wood pigeons.

english ivy 2