Leaves on the juvenile stems ovate or heart-shaped, dark green and leathery, 3 to 7 in. across and as much as 10 in. long, entire or slightly lobed, and sometimes with a few small, sharp teeth; leaves on flowering shoots much resembling those of the juvenile state, but less lobed and narrower. Young shoots and inflorescence parts covered with a yellowish scurf of scales with fifteen to twenty-five rays, which are free from each other only at the tips. Fruits black.
Native of the region south of the Caspian and thence westward through the Caucasus to the Pontic ranges of Asiatic Turkey. In the Caucasian forests it reaches huge dimensions but is also found in dry, open places. Of all the ivies it is the most distinct in foliage from the common one, the leaves often being of very large size and strongly cordate at the base.
H. colchica appears to have reached Britain in the 1840s, and certainly by 1851, from the Odessa Botanic Garden; it was generally known at first as “H. roegneriana” (variously misspelt) – a name which, according to Lawrence and Schulze, commemorates Roegner, who was Director of that garden. This introduction is said to have had very leathery, dark green, entire leaves, and plants are still to be seen in gardens which may well descend vegetatively from this introduction,
cv. ‘Amurensis’. – Leaves up to 1 ft long, sometimes strongly lobed but normally entire except for fine mucronate teeth. It does not cling well and usually needs to be tied to its support. Its origin is unknown and it certainly does not come from the Amur region of Russia. It was put into commerce by Bull’s nursery, Chelsea. In Gardeners’ Magazine (March 5, 1887), p. 136, there is a note by Hibberd on this ivy, where the name used for it is H. amurensis, but either later or earlier he called it H. acuta.
cv. ‘Dentata’. – This was described by Hibberd as a garden variety of “H. coriacea” (i.e., H. colchica). Leaves paler and less glossy than in the Roegner introduction, with margins set with small, distant, sharpish teeth. Common in cultivation.
cv. ‘Dentata Variegata’ (‘Dentata Aurea’). – Leaves as in ‘Dentata’, but with a creamy-yellow margin and an intermediate zone of grey-green. A.M. 1907, when shown by Messrs L. R. Russell, then of Richmond. A fine and vigorous variegated foliage plant, quite hardy.
Plants with a central variegation of yellow and pale green are in cultivation under various names, such as ‘Gold Leaf’, ‘Paddy’s Pride’ and ‘Sulphur Heart’. These may be of independent origin, but whether they are distinct enough to warrant separate naming can only be decided by comparative trial.