Popularity of Ivy as a festive decoration continues to thrive
IVY and Holly are wild plants that are popularly used in Christmas decorations. Unlike many other leaves, they are evergreen and since they stay green all winter, during the short and often dark and dreary days of mid-winter, they are symbols of the promise of the green growth that we look forward to seeing burst forth in springtime.
Ivy is an Atlantic species and it grows particularly well in our moist Irish climate. As wayside trees stand bare at this time of year evergreen Ivy becomes very obvious. And the more obvious it becomes the more likely it is to prompt someone to rekindle the age-old debate about Ivy strangling trees.
For years debate has raged back and forth about Ivy on trees. At the outset it must be said that Ivy on trees is entirely natural. Ivy evolved as a climber using trees for support. Ivy climbed trees in Ireland for thousands of years before man arrived to debate the issue.
Ivy is remarkable in that it produces tiny roots on its stems to grip onto the surfaces it climbs. Ivy seedlings sprout in shade on a woodland floor or in the gloom deep under a wayside hedgerow. The leaves need light so their instinct is to struggle upwards towards the energy-giving Sun using their little adventitious roots to cling on as the plant scrambles and climbs ever upwards.
It is a common sight to see Ivy that has successfully climbed a pier or a pole sending unsupported shoots skyward in the hope that the waving stems will touch a new surface to climb on.
The main purpose of Ivy’s adventitious roots is to cling on to aid climbing so the roots do not penetrate a tree trunk to absorb water, minerals or nutrients. Ivy is not a parasite. However, if the roots penetrate a damp crevice on a wall they can and do function as if growing in soil.
While Ivy is entirely natural on trees, some people feel it looks bad and remove it for aesthetic reasons. An old tree bearing the weight of a dense growth of Ivy is also more vulnerable to being brought down by winter gales. But that is also natural; it is part of the natural cycle in woodland for old trees to topple to create light-filled glades in which saplings can grow.
Whatever about the pros and cons, the popularity of Ivy as a source of festive decoration continues to thrive.
Does ivy strangle trees? It’s an age-old debate