Spare a thought for the humble ivy, says Sheffield wildlife expert

Among the plants that are unpopular with foresters, the ivy must rank quite highly.
Ivy in flowerIvy in flower
Ivy in flower

For the wildlife gardener however, this is one of the overlooked and unappreciated species which is a shame, as it is easy to grow.

In spring, this is one of the main food-plants for an uncommon butterfly, the holly blue, a species that frequently lays its eggs on holly, ivy, and berberis.

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Ivy provides wonderful evergreen cover and shelter for insects and birds throughout the year, and good nesting habitat for birds like wrens, dunnocks and robins, too.

Grown on trees and other vertical structures, ivy cover can also be utilised by bats; so all-in-all this is a very useful plant for the garden.

However, there is more, and ivy is especially helpful because it flowers late in the season and in abundance and thus provides nectar and pollen for late summer and autumn insects.

This is a vital food source at that time of year and is a boon to insects and to the birds which feed on them.

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Ivy then produces berries taken by both birds and mammals - so spare a thought before you cut it down.

Prof Ian D. Rotherham, a researcher, writer and broadcaster on wildlife and environmental issues, is contactable on [email protected]

Follow his Walk on the Wildside’ blog at for more information.

READ MORE from Prof Rotherham...


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