What plant do these belong to?
You probably see this plant every day as you walk past gardens, woods and along the paths in the reserve. Everyone knows this plant but nobody really notices it. Yet it is an important evergreen ecosystem.
Ivy provides nesting sites and shelter for insects, birds and even small mammals, frogs and toads. It also provides food for wildlife from autumn until spring.
Ivy flowers in autumn when few other flowers are open for business. Bees, butterflies and all number of insects come to feed on the nectar and pollen. In fact it is so popular with bees that you can often hear it “buzzing” as you get close, especially on a warm day.
For insects that hibernate over the winter, like the queen wasps, queen bumble-bees, queen hornets, red admiral and peacock butterflies this may provide their last chance to fuel up.
By December the fertilised flowers have ripened into clusters of black berries. Birds love them! The berries will last until April if they don’t get gobbled up before!
Do you know what it is yet?
Want another clue?
It can happily grow along the ground or up a wall and older plants can even stand on their own if thick enough. It can grow up trees but gains no nourishment from the trees it clings to. Though it may cause some damage by its sheer weight or by shading the trees’ leaves, it does not directly kill the tree it grows up.
Even our Portbury Wharf roe deer will dine out on it when the opportunity arises.