Ivy: a weather-proof climbing vine
Ivy protects buildings from pollution and the extremes of temperatures
Romantic people surely love to see it on ancient properties and old castles. It grows over the boundary walls of lovely antique mansions and historical residences and has always been known for being an ever-green climbing vine that causes damages to stone, bricks, mortar and stucco-plastered walls. It has often been considered the second way to destroy buildings besides dynamite, as it spreads its roots into the crevices of walls and its tendrils wedge the stone apart, but a recent study conducted by Oxford University has overturned old beliefs.
Oxford researchers used resistivity methods and laboratory analyses and discovered that common ivy – Hedera helix – acts as a thermal shield protecting buildings from extreme temperatures, which often cause walls to crack. Ivy warms up walls by 15% in cold weather and cools the surface by 36% in hot weather. Furthermore, its leaves absorb harmful pollutants that are present in the atmosphere. Ivy-clothed buildings appear to be less exposed to the damaging effects of temperature fluctuations and pollution than walls without ivy.
The research carried out by the Oxford team showed that ivy rapidly finds its way through existing cracks and holes where walls are already damaged; the microclimate created by ivy moderates the fluctuation of humidity and makes the migration of salts within the masonry decrease.
Therefore, the report released by Oxford researchers proposes a balanced approach to ivy and says it should not be removed automatically. Ivy may not be simply a menace threatening the stability of buildings. It might be a charming colourful plant that helps the preservation of monuments.
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