Ivy is a common climbing plant which is poisonous. It is a common sight in woodlands, gardens and climbing house walls. It provides a good home for insect and plant life and small birds. The Ivy climbs using short stem roots, its leaves are dark green and veined with a tough leathery texture. It flowers between September and December with small clusters which are round and densely packed, fruit is a small blue black 8-10mm across. Although the plant is poisonous it does have its uses containing hederasponin C, Alkaloids and iodine. It has been used to treat coughs, in homeopathy to treat thyroid problems and gallbladder complaints. Leaves have been used to make a poultice to treat sciatica and rheumatism. Although the leaves are dense and make good camouflage the fact that many varieties can cause skin irritation makes it unsuitable for this purpose. The tough climbing stems can be used to make short lengths of strong string.
What Culpepper says
It is so well known to every child almost, to grow in woods upon the trees, and upon the stone walls of churches, houses, &c. and sometimes to grow alone of itself, though but seldom.
Time. It flowers not until July, and the berries are not ripe till Christmas, when they have felt Winter frosts.
Government and virtues. It is under the dominion of Saturn. A pugil of the flowers, which may be about a dram, (saith Dioscorides) drank twice a day in red wine, helps the lask, and bloody flux. It is an enemy to the nerves and sinews, being much taken inwardly, out very helpful to them, being outwardly applied. Pliny saith, the yellow berries are good against the jaundice; and taken before one be set to drink hard, preserves from drunkenness, and helps those that spit blood; and that the white berries being taken inwardly, or applied outwardly, kills the worms in the belly. The berries are a singular remedy to prevent the plague, as also to free them from it that have got it, by drinking the berries thereof made into a powder, for two or three days together. They being taken in wine, do certainly help to break the stone, provoke urine, and women's courses. The fresh leaves of Ivy, boiled in vinegar, and applied warm to the sides of those that are troubled with the spleen, ache, or stitch in the sides, do give much ease. The same applied with some Rosewater, and oil of Roses, to the temples and forehead, eases the head-ache, though it be of long continuance. The fresh leaves boiled in wine, and old filthy ulcers hard to be cured washed therewith, do wonderfully help to cleanse them. It also quickly heals green wounds, and is effectual to heal all burnings and scaldings, and all kinds of exulcerations coming thereby, or by salt phlegm or humours in other parts of the body. The juice of the berries or leaves snuffed up into the nose, purges the head and brain of thin rheum that makes defluxions into the eyes and nose, and curing the ulcers and stench therein; the same dropped into the ears helps the old and running sores of them; those that are troubled with the spleen shall find much ease by continual drinking out of a cup made of Ivy, so as the drink may stand some small time therein before it be drank. Cato saith, That wine put into such a cup, will soak through it, by reason of the antipathy that is between them.
There seems to be a very great antipathy between wine and Ivy; for if one hath got a surfeit by drinking of wine, his speediest cure is to drink a draught of the same wine wherein a handful of Ivy leaves, being first bruised, have been boiled.