Ivy – Hedera helix


Oh, a dainty plant is the Ivy green,
That creepeth o’er ruins old!
Of right choice food are his meals, I ween,
In his cell so lone and cold.
The wall must be crumbled, the stone decayed,
To pleasure his dainty whim:
And the mouldering dust that years have made
Is a merry meal for him.
Creeping where no life is seen,
A rare old plant is the Ivy green.

Excerpted from THE IVY GREEN
by Charles Dickens

Holly berries, surrounded by green leaves, are brightest in winter. The Druids revered this plant as sacred. It has been associated with winter magic and believed to repel evil. The Celts of the British Isles and Gaul believed the Holly King ruled over winter and death.

‘In Scandinavian mythology, the holly belonged to Thor & Freya. The plant’s association with Thor’s lightning meant that it could protect people from being struck by his bolts. Norsemen and Celts would plant a holly tree near their homes to ward off lightning strikes. The crooked lines of the holly leaves most likely gave rise to its association with lightning, as well as the fact that holly conducts lightning into the ground better than most trees.’ (Jill Stefco)

The custom of decorating houses and churches with ivy at Christmas was once forbidden by the Christian Church, on account of its pagan associations.

Leaves and berries are taken orally as an expectorant to treat cough and bronchitis. In 1597, the British herbalist John Gerard recommended water infused with ivy leaves as a wash for sore or watering eyes.

Warning: The sap and berries are poisonous, causing induces nausea and vomiting, breathing

 problems or tightness in your throat or chest, chest pain, skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin


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