Hedera nepalensis var. sinensis

Common Name: Nepal ivy 
Type: Vine
Family: Araliaceae
Native Range: Himalayas
Zone: 7 to 10
Height: 10.00 to 50.00 feet
Spread: 20.00 to 50.00 feet
Bloom Time: September to October
Bloom Description: Greenish white
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Heavy Shade


Easily grown in moist, average soils part shade to full shade. Tolerates a wide range of soils, but prefers rich evenly moist loams. Tolerates some drought. This vine is winter hardy to USDA Zone 6 which includes the St. Louis area where plants will benefit from a shady placement that will provide some winter protection from cold temperatures, winter winds and full sun. Plants may be propagated vegetatively or by seed. Birds help disperse seed. Spreading stems will root at the nodes where they touch the soil. When grown as a ground cover, this vine will rarely need pruning except if it invades unintended areas. Ground covers may be trimmed on the edges with a spade or shears.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Hedera nepalensis, commonly known as Himalayan ivy, is a woody evergreen perennial vine with gray-green foliage. It is primarily grown in cultivation as a climbing vine or trailing ground cover. As a vine, it climbs by aerial roots and may, over time, grow upwards to a height of 50-100’ in wild areas, but is more often seen much shorter (10-50’) in cultivated areas. As a ground cover, it typically grows to 6-9" tall but spreads over time to 50’ or more unless trimmed shorter. It is primarily native to forested areas, roadsides and rocky slopes in Nepal and Bhutan but may also be found in Afghanistan, India, China, and Southeast Asia.

Himalayan ivy, like the similar English ivy (Hedera helix), grows in two forms or stages: (1) juvenile stage is the climbing/spreading stage (most often seen) in which plants produce triangular-ovate, gray-green leaves (to 4 1/2” long) with two lobes near the base, lighter gray-white veins, and lobular teeth on the upper leaf parts with leaves appearing on non-flowering stems with adventitious roots, and (2) adult stage is the shrubby non-climbing stage in which lobeless, ovate-lanceolate, gray-green leaves appear on rootless stems that do not spread or climb, but do produce round, umbrella-like clusters of 5-petaled greenish-white flowers followed by orange or yellow berries which ripen to black.

All parts of this vine are toxic if ingested by humans (contains saponins).

Var. sinensis varies from species plants primarily by the shape of its juvenile leaves which have entire margins or are 3-lobed around the base with an absence of the distinctive lobules in the upper leaf parts which are found on species plants. Sinensis means of China in reference to the native territory of this variety.

Genus name is the Latin name for ivy.

Specific epithet means of Nepal.


No serious insect or disease problems. Aphids, mealy bugs, caterpillars, loopers and scale may appear. Watch for leaf spots, canker, bacterial leaf spot, stem rot and powdery mildew. Mites can be significant problem. Climbing vines around homes easily crawl into unintended areas, curl around gutters and damage painted surfaces, loose mortar or aluminum siding if growth is not closely monitored.


Gray-green foliage for shady areas of the landscape. Cover for fences, trellises or walls. Ground cover. Stabilize banks and slopes. Lawn alternative.