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  • Writer's pictureCarol Malin

Ivy, why you should leave it to grow.

Ivy is an important source of late autumn pollen and nectar for Honey bees and other pollinators. Ivy mainly flowers in September and October, ivy nectar is high quality with a sugar content of 49%. It is visited by a wide range of insects, butterflies, flies, hover flies, bumblebees, wasps, ivy bee (this specialises on ivy) as well as honey bees. Having a supply of high quality nectar and pollen late on in the flowering season improves the chances of a hive over-wintering.

You will hear the buzz of many insects in the ivy on a sunny day and see the petals falling through the air. Ivy flowers are small, green and have tiny petals.

Most people think of ivy as being a plant that needs to be removed because of the perceived damage that it can do. Ivy is not a parasite, it reduces pollution in built up areas, and is a benefit to wildlife. Ivy can provide insulation to buildings and rarely harms the trees it climbs.

It provides berries which are greenish-black to dark purple, these are food for birds. Mature thick ivy growing in trees and on walls will provide nest sites.

The caterpillar of the Holly Blue butterfly feeds on ivy as well as several other butterfly and moth caterpillars.

Only mature ivy (8 to 10 years old) which has oval leaves flowers and not immature ivy that has hand-shaped leaves. It only flowers when it has climbed onto a wall, tree, cliff or other structure.

The Ivy bee (Colletes Hederae) have adjusted their life cycle to the flowering season of ivy and are dependant on ivy pollen to feed their larvae

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