English Ivy
Hedera helixAraliaceae
Whole Plant
Whole PlantFlowerFruitLeaf
Photos (c) Cheryl Comeau Beaton unless otherwise noted


  • none

The Plant:

  • A vine that climbs via aerial rootlets, also a creeping groundcover. An evergreen plant that is shrub-like when mature.

The Leaves:

  • dark green
  • white veins
  • evergreen
  • alternate
  • leathery
  • juvenile form 3 to 5 lobed
  • mature form not lobed, diamond to round

The Stem:

  • light brown
  • shallow ridges and furrows when old
  • seen growing up buildings, trees, and fences

The Flowers:

  • Greenish-white five-petaled flowers grow in a globe-shaped umbel. Found with the lobeless, adult form of leaves.

The Fruits:

  • berry like
  • black drupe
  • 0.25 inches diameter
  • poisonous

The Habitat:

  • a generalist - full sun to dense shade
  • moist, organic soils
  • moderately salt tolerant


  • bird dispersed seeds

Key ID Features:

  • vine
  • groundcover
  • evergreen
  • dark green leaves, white veins
  • young leaves 3-5 lobed
  • green-white flowers
  • black berry-like fruit

Similar Species:

  • English ivy may be confused with other native climbing vines, including Wild grape (Vitis spp.), Dutchman?s pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla), and the non-native Cinnamon vine (Dioscorea oppositifolia).


  • Commonly a garden escape, seen growing as a ground cover, up building sides or trimmed into a hedge. Hedera helix can cause economic and ecological harm as it can damage and bring down mature trees and prevent the germination of native plants through light exclusion.
  • On Nantucket, this species is known to set fruit, even on low-lying vines. However, more information is needed about its presence and ability to spread in minimally managed habitats.

Growth Form: Vine

Origin: Europe

Level of Invasiveness for Nantucket: Likely Invasive

Level of Invasiveness for Massachusetts: Not evaluated

Massachusetts Cultivation Restrictions: no

Credits: The Electronic Field Guide to the Invasive Plants of Nantucket (c) 2005-2006 Maria Mitchell Association, EFG Project, UMass Boston