English Ivy Fact Sheet

Appearance:
This common invasive plant of Vancouver (BC, Canada), can grow up to 30m with support. The stem is light brown, having holdfasts, and becoming thick when climbing.The roots and stem can reach lengths of over 50 metres in length covering a forest floor. Leaves can be described as alternate triangular juvenile leaves with 3 to 5 lobed, adult leaves ovate and unlobed, dark green, and waxy. To help identify these vines, look for small, green-white flowers form in the fall at the ends of stems on vertical growth and hard blackish berries form in spring, offering a high fat food source for birds (the likely carrier for spreading this plant globally).

Part Collected:
Vines stripped of leaves and rootlets. The longer vine the better, which are used for weavers or warps when twining or braiding. Shorter vines are good for warps and small coiling projects.

Time of Year:
Any Time. All year around.

Weaving techniques good for:
Twining, coiling, and braiding, in the making of twined utilitarian baskets, trivets, trays, coiled baskets, coiled mats for example.

Gathering:
Tools for ivy removal are: work gloves, pruning shears, lopping shears, pruning saw.
So you don’t loose your tools in the ivy, paint handles red or wrap handles in red tape.  When gathering the vines can be pulled out by hand with some difficulty. Wear gloves when stripping off leaves and rootlets, and coil for transportation. If you’re clearing the area of this plant, dispose of the leaves and roots in your regular garbage (not compost) to prevent further spreading. Cut climbing vines at a reachable height to remove upper portions. Use the pruning shears to cut and snap the vines away from tree trunks. You can also create ivy logs by pulling up and rolling ivy into a log. This work is best done by two or three “pullers” in an ivy desert where there are few native plants, and you plan to make lots of baskets.

Preparing:
Coiled bundles of English Ivy can be used as is, or cleaned of the outer bark, split and split again. If you’re planning on weaving with the ivy at a later date, and would be good idea to clean the bark off, split.  Processing the vines for one hour, will result in one hour weaving on average.

Drying:
Coil the bundles so they can fit in a small container (to rehydrate later when you are ready to weave), layout on a table or other flat surface to dry. Or to save space, string coils and hang on a clothesline. Always set your material out to dry after a weaving session, and resoak for the next session. Vines may mildew after lengthy exposure to dampness.

Storing:
Hang the coils in a dry, protected area.

Notes:
Ivy foliage is capable of inducing an allergic reaction (contact dermatitis) in some people. People with this condition are also likey to be allergic to carrots, and other members of that root vegetable family. Avoid contact with eyes.