Winter online exhibition
Latin name Hedera helix
Ivy has been a popular winter decoration over the centuries. The custom of decorating homes in winter with ivy and evergreens dates back to pre-Christian times. Its evergreen nature represents life continuing through the winter.
It was also considered to be a symbol of woman, whereas the prickly holly was considered to be ‘male’. Like mistletoe, ivy was believed to bestow fertility. Priests in Ancient Greece gave wreaths of ivy to newly married couples, as the plant was considered to be an emblem of fidelity. When holly and ivy were put together, it was said to bring peace at home between a husband and wife for the following year.
The images here show a herbarium sheet of ivy from the British and Irish herbarium, and a print from the prints and drawings collection of the botany section at World Museum. These collections are a valuable resource for the identification and study of plant biodiversity past, present and future.
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