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Stems green or dark purplish red. Leaves large, leathery, somewhat shallowly three- or five-lobed in the juvenile state, 2 to 6 or even 8 in. across, heart-shaped at the base. On the fertile branches they are entire and rounded or tapered at the base.
Native of the Canary Islands, Madeira, the Azores, Portugal, and of N.W. Africa as far east as Algeria; date of introduction uncertain. It is closely allied to the common ivy but the hairs bear more numerous rays (usually twelve to sixteen) and the rays are united for about a quarter of their length. It has been confused with the Irish ivy (H. helix ‘Hibernica’), which in the 19th century was very commonly offered under the name H. canariensis while the true species was known as “H. algeriensis” or “H. canariensis nova”. Hibberd’s name H. grandifolia was intended as a substitute for H. canariensis and under it he also included the Irish ivy.
H. canariensis is mainly represented in cultivation by the following cultivars:
The ivies of north-west Africa, the Azores and Madeira are usually united with the Canary Island ivy. But the view has been expressed that four species are involved – H. canariensis Willd., H. algeriensis Hibberd, H. azorica Carr., and H. maderensis K. Koch (Hugh McAllister, Int. Dendr. Soc. Year Book 1981, pp. 107-8).
cv. ‘Gloire de Marengo’ (‘Variegata’). – In Deutsche Baumschule, 1964, p. 355, the late Gerd Krüssmann cites a French correspondent to the effect that this ivy was originally known as ‘Souvenir de Marengo’ and was found in Algiers in the garden of a house called Villa Marengo. A more important question is whether the ivy named H. algeriensis ‘Variegata’ by the nurseryman Paul in 1867 is clonally the same as what is now grown as ‘Gloire de Marengo’. Assuming that this is the case (as seems likely), the most plausible history of this ivy would be that it was introduced to France from Algeria some years after the French took possession of the coastal strip in 1830; was named ‘Souvenir (or ‘Gloire) de Marengo’; and renamed with a Latin epithet by William Paul after he received it from France (with whose nurserymen he had close contacts). It should be added that directly or indirectly the name commemorates Napoleon’s victory over an Austrian army on the plains of Marengo in north-west Italy in 1800; also that there is a town on the coast west of Algiers that during the period of French rule was called Marengo.
† cv. ‘Ravensholst’. – Leaves unlobed or with a pair of obscure lateral lobes truncate at the base, 4 to 51⁄2 in. long and about the same in width, dark green and glossy. Vigorous and making a good ground-cover, but doubtfully hardy outside the milder parts.
Both these cultivars received Awards of Merit in the Wisley trials.