Friday, September 18, 2009

The Plant that Ate a House



Well, not quite............but this is what happens when you plant Boston Ivy (Pathenocissus tricuspidata) and forget to prune it. This house, in the centre of Allendale in Northumberland (see http://www.northumberland-cam.com/allendale/), makes a stunning impact when its cloak of foliage changes colour in early autumn. This rampant climber scales walls using sticky pads on the tips of tendrils, which glue it to the wall surface.  Recent research in China suggests that this adhasive ability and rapid growth might make this a useful plant for stabilising unstable rock surfaces, like the faces of abandoned quarries.


The name Boston ivy relates to its use to cover buildings in that state, not to its geographical origin which is eastern Asia.

6 comments:

  1. A great tabloid headline Phil lol

    Many years ago I used to pass a small church on the way to Southend, that was covered in this plant. It looked amazing.
    It's certainly a vigorous plant

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  2. Some plants really do hang on tight. A few years ago I scraped some common ivy off the garage wall. It had been growing for a few years and took days of hard work to remove most of it but the bits which are well and truly stuck will probably never come off.

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  3. It's a wonderful sight in autumn, Keith, but not so attractive when it's just bare stems in winter.

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  4. Hi John, I think the roots of ivy grow into the fine contours of whatever is supporting them and almost become part of the fabric of buildings.

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  5. Great headline! It reminded me of a house I came across in the north of Scotland. As I can't include a photo with this comment, I've put it on my blog at http://standandstare-nyctalus.blogspot.com/

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  6. That's an amazing ivy picture, Nyctalus...I've long thought that Hedera helix is one of the most interesting and important plants in the British flora, not least because it will eat your house if you give it half a chance.

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