Hedera helix (Scientific name)

General poisoning notes:

English ivy (Hedera helix) is an indoor and outdoor ornamental vine. This plant contains saponins, which have caused poisoning in cattle, dogs, sheep, and humans. Two chemicals in the sap can also cause severe contact dermatitis in sensitive humans. Cases of poisoning are found in older European literature; the plant grows naturally in Europe. Cattle that ingested large quantities of the vines were ill for a few days. Humans who ingested the berries have shown symptoms, including coma. Dermatitis is rare but can be severe. Weeping lesions and blisters respond slowly to treatment (Cooper and Johnson 1984, Massmanian et al. 1980). Family pets should not be allowed to eat English ivy leaves.

References:

  • Boyle, J., Harman, R. M. 1985. Contact dermatitis to Hedera helix (common ivy). Contact Dermatitis, 12: 111-112.
  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.
  • Frohne, D., Pfander, H. J. 1983. A colour atlas of poisonous plants. Wolfe Publishing Ltd., London, England. 291 pp.
  • Massmanian, A., Valcuende Cavero, F., Ramirez Bosca, A., Castells Rodellas, A. 1988. Contact dermatitis from variegated ivy (Hedera helix subsp. canariensis Willd.). Contact Dermatitis, 18: 247-248.
  • Mitchell, J. C. 1981. Allergic contact dermatitis from Hedera helix and Brassaia actinophylla (Araliaceae). Contact Dermatitis, 7: 158-159.
  • Spoerke, D. G., Smolinske, S. C. 1990. Toxicity of houseplants. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Fla., USA. 335 pp.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name:
Hedera helix L.
Vernacular name(s):
English ivy
Scientific family name:
Araliaceae
Vernacular family name:
aralia

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Hedera helix

References:

  • Agriculture Quebec. 1975. Noms des maladies des plantes du Canada/ Names of plant diseases in Canada. , Quebec City, Que., Canada. 288 pp.
  • Alex, J. F., Cayouette, R., Mulligan, G. A. 1980. Common and botanical names of weeds in Canada/Noms populaire et scientifiques des plantes nuisibles du Canada. Revised. Agric. Can. Publ., Ottawa, Ont., Canada. 132 pp.
  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Scoggan, H. J. 1978, 1979. The flora of Canada. Nat. Mus. Nat. Sci. (Ottawa) Publ. Bot. 7(1)-7(4). 1711 pp.
  • Van Wijk, H. L. 1911. A dictionary of plant names. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, The Netherlands. 1444 pp.
  • Victorin, M. 1964. Flore Laurentienne. 2nd ed. Univ. Montreal, Montreal, Que., Canada. 952 pp.

Geographic Information

Plant or plant parts used in or around the home.

References:

  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Boivin, B. 1966, 1967. Énumération des plantes du Canada. Provencheria 6. Nat. Can. (Que.) 93: 253-274; 371-437; 583-646; 989-1063. 94: 131-157; 471-528; 625-655.

Image or illustration

Images: Hedera helix - Google Search

Notes on Poisonous plant parts:

The sap contained in the leaves and stems of English ivy can cause dermatitis and irritation in sensitive humans. The dermatitis usually occurs after pruning the plant (Massmanian et al. 1988). The leaves and fruit contain saponins that hydrolyze into toxic hederin compounds. These toxins have caused poisoning in animals and humans (Cooper and Johnson 1984).

Toxic parts:

  • leaves
  • mature fruit
  • plant juices

References:

  • Boyle, J., Harman, R. M. 1985. Contact dermatitis to Hedera helix (common ivy). Contact Dermatitis, 12: 111-112.
  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.
  • Massmanian, A., Valcuende Cavero, F., Ramirez Bosca, A., Castells Rodellas, A. 1988. Contact dermatitis from variegated ivy (Hedera helix subsp. canariensis Willd.). Contact Dermatitis, 18: 247-248.

Notes on Toxic plant chemicals:

English ivy contains hederasaponins, which undergo partial hydrolysis to form toxic substances (micro -hederin and beta-hederin). These toxins can cause poisoning in humans and other animals if ingested in sufficient quantities. English ivy also contains allergenic and irritant chemicals, falcarinol and didehydrofalcarinol, which cause intense burning and dermatitis in sensitive humans (Cooper and Johnson 1984; Massmanian et al. 1988).

Toxic plant chemicals:

  • didehydrofalcarinol
  • falcarinol
  • hederasaponins

References:

  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.
  • Massmanian, A., Valcuende Cavero, F., Ramirez Bosca, A., Castells Rodellas, A. 1988. Contact dermatitis from variegated ivy (Hedera helix subsp. canariensis Willd.). Contact Dermatitis, 18: 247-248.

Animals/Human Poisoning:

Note: When an animal is listed without additional information, the literature (as of 1993) contained no detailed explanation.

Cattle

Dogs

General symptoms of poisoning:

References:

  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.

Humans

General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

Cattle that ingested large quantities of English ivy vine became ill and excitable, started staggering, and bellowed loudly. The odor of crushed ivy leaves was on the breath and in the milk. Recovery was quick and complete in three days (Cooper and Johnson 1984). English ivy berries are often listed as being poisonous to children, and cases of English ivy poisoning are listed in older European literature. Symptoms of ingestion included laboured breathing, coma, convulsions, and excitation (Cooper and Johnson 1984). Frohne and Pfander (1983) state that the ripe berries are dry and taste bitter. Large quantities are unlikely to be consumed by children.

References:

  • Boyle, J., Harman, R. M. 1985. Contact dermatitis to Hedera helix (common ivy). Contact Dermatitis, 12: 111-112.
  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.
  • Massmanian, A., Valcuende Cavero, F., Ramirez Bosca, A., Castells Rodellas, A. 1988. Contact dermatitis from variegated ivy (Hedera helix subsp. canariensis Willd.). Contact Dermatitis, 18: 247-248.

Sheep

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