Is this an Ivy ?
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  1. #1
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    Aug 2014
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    England, UK
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    Default Is this an Ivy ?

    For many years I've heard beekeepers referring to an autumn honey top-up from flowering ivy, which I've found very frustrating as I've got shed-loads of ivy around this place but have never seen so much as a single flower on any of it.
    Internet 'expert' sites tell me that common ivy (hedera helix) flowers when mature - after 10 years. Well, the stuff I have is well over 15 years old - so that's unlikely to be the cause of this non-flowering.

    Apparently there are 15 different types of ivy, so I thought the simplest way to proceed would be to ask you guys - anyone who has experience of flowering ivy - to help identify and/or confirm some plant material that I've just located.

    On Monday I was down at the pallet yard, salvaging the last of the unwanted pallets, when I spotted what I'm hoping may be flowering ivy on top of a boundary wall - and there were dozens of bees there working it - so I took a handful and now have 50-odd cuttings in pots.

    Ok - here's a photograph showing: upper left - the common ivy which climbs over just about anything and everything here, given half a chance. Upper right is a sample of some 'creeping ivy' which forms a dense ground cover, but appears to have no interest in climbing up onto anything. Both of these are similar in that their leaves are dark green and have a 'waxy' appearance with pronounced veins. They also produce multiple groups of concentrated roots along their stems, almost like the legs of centipedes - and so grip onto anything which they come into contact with.



    In contrast - at the bottom of the above shot is a sample of the stuff I've just found. As you can see it has the same type and colour of flowers as shown on stock photographs of flowering ivy, but - the leaves are different, and the branches/stems don't have the same root development as seen with the others.

    So - is this ivy ? Whatever it is, I want to propagate it - so identification would certainly help - as this may be (probably is) completely the wrong time of the year to have taken cuttings.

    Would appreciate any help on this one. Thanks
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Isle of Wight, VA
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    Default Re: Is this an Ivy ?

    Everything that photo is Hedera (Ivy). The ones I have seen flowering are the larger leaved ones on the left and middle. The one on the right I typically see in the garden centers in little pots and was not aware that it was winter hardy, but maybe it is in your area. I believe those fancy leaved ones are cultivars of the original wild Hedera helix and I've not seen them blooming, but my only experience with them is on topiary statues where any blooms would be rigorously pruned away.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Is this an Ivy ?

    Thanks Ruth - much appreciated.

    Armed with that knowledge, I've been ferreting around further and it seems that ivy leaf-shape varies quite a bit. Hedera Hibernica (Irish Ivy) even has heart-shape leaves, rather than variations on the classic Maple-shape.

    I've even found a plausible explanation for why there aren't any clumps of rootlets on the stems/branches on this particular flowering ivy. Apparently some types of ivy have two distinct growing phases: the first (juvenile) stage is pretty-much the same as any other creeping/climbing ivy, but as it enters the second (adult) phase it effectively turns into a bush - which is why so many landscape gardeners like these types - and in this adult bush form the stems/branches cease to have roots attached. Mystery solved.

    Now my logic says that if a plant no longer has any means of expanding by spreading and re-rooting (as with 'normal' ivies) the only means of propagating itself is to generate flowers to form seeds for dispersal. So - hopefully - this particular type of 'bush' ivy will be more willing to produce flowers ... Fingers crossed.

    Thanks again
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Default Re: Is this an Ivy ?

    LJ I have always read it was the English ivy that our bees foraged on, The flowers look similar to the flowers in the bottom of your picture. It grows wild in some forest behind my property climbing up a lot of the big trees, however like many species some years you may get quite a lot of nectar from it but other years not so much.
    Johno

  6. #5
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    Jun 2015
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    Default Re: Is this an Ivy ?

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    ... Apparently some types of ivy have two distinct growing phases: the first (juvenile) stage is pretty-much the same as any other creeping/climbing ivy, but as it enters the second (adult) phase it effectively turns into a bush -
    Yes, thatís what I see in my neighborhood, where English ivy grows everywhere, creeping without flowers (with lobed leaves) or climbing with flowers (with leaves in somewhat elongated shape). Many homeowners use ivy plants as ground covers and mow them, but some use them to cover garden fences or let them climb dead tree stumps so that they can flower. During early - mid October I can smell ivy flowers in woodlands, and more strongly around my hives.


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    Zone 8, elevation 70 ft, near the north end of Lake Washington

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Is this an Ivy ?

    Wow - that is beautiful !! Wish I could get my reluctant/pathetic ivy to flower like that ...

    At least I now know what flowing ivy looks like, so I've got a target to aim towards - much appreciated.

    A very envious LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Is this an Ivy ?

    LJ, location location location, I wish the stuff growing around here flowered like that.
    Johno

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Is this an Ivy ?

    Hi Johno - ivy appears to be really weird stuff - I've been listening to guys for ages talking about Ivy honey, how useful it is for topping-up winter stores, it's crystallisation and so on ... But I've never seen so much as a single flower on mine.

    Half a dozen bushes within range like the example in that excellent photograph would make all the difference.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Seattle WA
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    Default Re: Is this an Ivy ?

    I live a few of miles south of Kuro and we have ivy like his that climb up the fir trees for over 100 feet. On a good day, you can hear the trees buzzing. The ivy not only gives a fair amount of nectar just in time for winter, they produce massive amounts of pollen too. They are considered a noxious weed here but so are blackberries and knotweed. I believe that everything beekeepers like for making honey is a noxious weed in Washington State.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Keene, New Hampshire, USA
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    Default Re: Is this an Ivy ?

    I was walking in Bled, Slovenia and came across a wall of flowering ivy - actually, I heard the buzzing before I reached it, there were so many bees on it. My plan was to plant some when I got home for fall forage. Upon research and talking to Slovenians though, I discovered that ivy nectar crystallized within a few weeks, like two, in the frame, not to mention once it was extracted. Because of that, I abandoned my quest for ivy. I don't want crystallized honey for winter bee food.

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