Scientific Name: Cymbalaria muralis
Other names: "Mother of Thousands.", Kenilworth Ivy, Pennywort
Ivy-leaved Toadflax may not be considered as a weed by many as it is quite charming when it drapes from an old wall. If it is allowed to grow in a rockery it can overwhelm more delicate specimens. It was introduced from Southern Europe in the 17th century, but is now widespread in the British Isles.
The dark green leaves are held on long, reddish stalks and have five rounded lobes which give them their Ivy-like character. They are reddish on the back and both sides are smooth. In flavour they are acrid and pungent in a similar way to cress and have been used in salads in their native regions. A poultice can be used to stem bleeding and an extract may have a use in treating diabetes. The slender stems are the same colour as the leaf and flower stalks and can be up to 90cm long with roots at intervals along their length.
The single flowers appear from April to November, growing outwards towards the light to attract pollenators. They are lilac with a yellow centre and stand erect on long stalks which arise from leaf axils. After fertilization - usually by Bees, the mature seed pod grows away from light to find a dark place such as a crevice where it will germinate. Using this method of seed dispersal the plant can colonise a whole rockface or wall and is able to climb to the top of a building.
It is easily uprooted, but remaining rooted stems may regrow. There may also be a reservoir of seeds which will germinate later. Weedkillers are effective and any regrowth or new seedlings will require retreatment.
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