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Updated 09/13/2019


The Ivy Leaf

Ivy was in high esteem among the ancients. Its leaves formed the poet's crown, as well as the wreath of Bacchus, to whom the plant was dedicated, probably because of the practice of binding the brow with Ivy leaves to prevent intoxication, a quality formerly attributed to the plant. We are told by old writers that the effects of intoxication by wine are removed if a handful of Ivy leaves are bruised and gently boiled in wine and drunk.

It is the Common Ivy that is alluded to in the Idylls of Theocritus, but the Golden Ivy of Virgil is supposed to be the yellow-berried variety (Hedera Chrysocarpa), now so rare. The Greek priests presented a wreath of Ivy to newly-married persons, and the Ivy has throughout the ages been regarded as the emblem of fidelity. The custom of decorating houses and churches with Ivy at Christmas was forbidden by one of the early Councils of the Church, on account of its pagan associations, but the custom still remains.

In former days, English taverns bore over their doors the sign of an Ivy bush, to indicate the excellence of the liquor supplied within: hence the saying 'Good wine needs no bush.'

Rock Ivy is the plant badge of Clan Gordon. The chief of the clan is the powerful Earl of Huntly, and now also the Marquess of Huntly.