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Lindsay's Flora Blog - 4th October

Posted: Sunday 4th October 2020 by trustadmin

Ivy / Atlantic Ivy (Hedera helix ssp hibernica)

My final blog for the time being is about Ivy. Often vilified for damaging trees, it is probably the most important flowering plant for a wide variety of native pollinators in the autumn, a time when there is often little else on offer to them to feed on, and it is therefore something many late-flying pollinators depend on for pollen and nectar.

At this time of year, you will often see large numbers of Red Admiral butterflies on the plant. More importantly Ivy Bees (Colletes hederae), solitary nesting bees which emerge to coincide with the ivy flowering, are heavily dependent on Ivy in order to raise the next generation, and they can be seen in their hundreds, particularly along the narrow path from the Watermill into the Bonne Terre valley. But if you’re stopping to enjoy the buzz of insects do keep an eye out for unusual species on ivy as it can sometimes host some more unusual visitors.

Ivy is generally in flower from early September through to November, and the flowers are followed by berries which are a very valuable food source for overwintering birds such as blackbirds and thrushes. So, if you have ivy in your garden, please don’t remove it - it can grow a little wild but just keep it in check by cutting it back once it’s finished flowering and fruiting and has provided food for so much of our important wildlife.

For more information on the plant’s importance for pollinators please see: https://pollinatorproject.gg/the-importance-of-ivy/

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